AgForce General President Georgie Somerset has commended the banking sector for their commitment to understanding the long-term, on-the-ground impacts of drought on farming families and investigating ways they can better support them.
AgForce has taken Australian Banking Association (ABA) CEO Anna Bligh and senior agribusiness executives of the major banks on a tour of the Darling Downs – amongst the worst drought-affected areas in the country – so they could see the situation first hand.
AgForce members David Peters, cattle and grains producer of Allora, and John and Nicole Piper, grain growers at Felton, offered the delegation guided tours of their properties and explained the truth about drought from a farmer’s perspective.
“It’s no secret that farmers are doing it tough out here,” Mrs Somerset said.
“We appreciate the genuine concern and interest being shown by the banks in meeting with us to talk about how they can do things differently, in terms of assessing a farm’s business risk, debt serviceability, and commercial viability and determining what is an acceptable return on investment for them.
“Banks are a vital partner in any farm business. We can only grow food and fibre because of their ongoing investment and faith in us as producers.”
ABA CEO Anna Bligh said that as drought conditions worsen in some areas of the country it was important for banks to listen closely to communities affected and step in to provide support where needed.
“Australian banks stand shoulder to shoulder with local communities affected by this devastating drought and have for many years been providing a wide range of assistance,” Ms Bligh said.
“The first step for any customer affected by this drought is to contact their bank’s hardship teams who are ready to help. It’s important as conditions continue to worsen that banks listen to local drought affected communities to understand how best to support people through these awful times.”
Mrs Somerset said an important aspect of the visit was not just highlighting the severity of the drought and the length of the recovery process, but the hope and confidence of producers for the future.
“The drought is really hurting us and many producers have had their backs hard to the wall financially, physical and emotionally for several years,” she said.
“However, everywhere you go out here there is an overwhelming sense of confidence that once it does start to rain, agriculture in this State is poised on the edge of a great future, a $30 billion-a-year future.
“I think it is critical to demonstrate this to partners like banks who have a shared stake in our future.”
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