Pork Queensland President John Coward
Producers are urged to consider their finances and opportunities for support as many face challenging times due to the depressed market for pig meat combined with high feed costs. While producers draw on reserves from better times, Queensland producers face the highest feed costs in Australia and nothing looks like changing any time soon!
Pork Queensland Inc, supported by Australian Pork Limited and a Queensland pork farmer, met with senior Queensland Department of Agriculture heads to discuss the industry crisis. The department was asked to consider any opportunity to reduce costs to producers as it appears the lack of profitability will last for a significant longer period, perhaps 12 to 18 months, and thus impact the sustainability of many producers. I am aware of three who have left the industry and another three in dire straits, plus a significant number who have reduced or stopped mating. These are tough times.
As such and before adverse action is taken by suppliers of feed and other services, producers are urged to review their financial support and contact their banks or financial consultants and institutions for advice on restructuring farm debt. The key message is: act now! The following government programs may be of assistance to producers, their families and staff.
Farm household assistance
The allowance provides up to three years of income support for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship. Basic eligibility requirements are to:
- Be a farmer or the partner of a farmer;
- Meet an income and assets test;
- Be willing to undertake a farm financial assessment; and
- Be willing to enter into a financial improvement agreement to help improve your financial circumstances.
Phone 132 316 or visit humanservices.gov.au/ individuals/services/cen trelink/farm-householdallowance. Alternatively, call 1800 623 946 or visit qrida.qld.gov.au. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provides these references as a first point of call. Call now as QRIDA is aware of the difficult times for the pork industry, its farmers and families and can help with applications. Contact Brendan Egan on 0428 909 246 for support.
Here’s a brief overview of some key QRIDA programs that may be of interest to producers:
- Farm Management Grants – can assist eligible Queensland primary producers or their relatives to offset the costs of professional advice associated with succession planning. It’s a rebate up to $2500 per annum, per person.
- First Start loan scheme – low-interest loans up to $2 million to assist young people to buy property from their parents or other family members, or enter a family partnership. The current one-year fixed rate on these PIPES loans is 3.2 percent.
- Sustainability loan scheme – low-interest loans up to $1,300,000 to assist existing primary producers achieve a more productive and sustainable primary production enterprise. Indeed, the one PIPES loan approved this year for a pig producer in the North Burnett went towards construction and fit-out of a new grower shed facility focused on boosting productivity.
QRIDA also delivers natural disaster, drought and business improvement assistance on behalf of state and federal governments. In addition, QRIDA now provides a suite of farm debt services including the Farm Debt Restructure Office (new offering since January 1), the mandatory Farm Business Debt Mediation program and the Queensland Rural Debt Survey.
Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland
The Rural Financial Counselling Service Southern Queensland (RFCS-SQ) supports eligible farmers who are experiencing financial hardship and to assist them to understand their financial position and adopt strategies to allow them to become financially self-sufficient. Rural financial counsellors are located in 14 locations throughout the Southern Region of Queensland. Each office provides a full range of rural financial counselling services.
To find out more about the services the RFCS-SQ can provide and to get in contact with rural financial counsellor in your area, visit: rfcssq.org.au
For personal and family anxieties that result from the financial impacts, producers can contact Beyondblue (1300 224 636; beyondblue.org.au), Country Callback (1800 543 354; countrycallback. com.au) and Lifeline (13 11 14; lifeline.org.au). If you just want to have a chat about the support options, call me on 0407 622 166.