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Have your say on success of Regional Investment Corporation

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister David Littleproud is urging farmers and agribusiness owners to have their say on the success of the Regional Investment Corporation (RIC).
From today, business owners have one month to submit their views in a public consultation process of the RIC 2018 Act. Mr Littleproud said he feared the Albanese government was looking to close the RIC down in their cost cutting, despite its important role for farmers.
The RIC Act allowed farming loans to be given to those in financial need, with more than $3.26 billion in concessional loans handed to more than 3000 farm and small businesses.
During the last drought, farmers could access a $2 million loan to refinance their bank debt, with a two-year interest free period, then a three-year interest only, then five years principal and interest at a concessional rate.
“The RIC Act introduced by the former Coalition Government has seen many benefits, including the drought loan,” Mr Littleproud said.
“55 per cent of respondents in an RIC survey said they may not have been or could not have
been still in business without the support of that loan product.
“The RIC’s mandate set its interest rate just to cover administration and borrowing costs. It delivered immediate support for everything from buying fodder to transporting stock and agisting cattle, through to paying staff and managing cash flow.”
An AgBiz Drought loan assisted small businesses that directly provided primary production related goods and services to farm businesses in drought-affected communities to access a loan of up to $500,000 for two-year interest free.
“These loans meant farmers and small business owners could do what they needed, when they needed. It gave money into the pockets of farmers and graziers who were struggling to keep their operations running, as the crippling effect of the drought continued to bite.
“The loans allowed them to make it through the tough times and remain in operation today.
“There was unprecedented demand for the drought loan, with an additional $2 billion in loan funding given to the RIC, taking the total loan funding to $4.075 billion.”
Mr Littleproud added he was proud to have helped many farmers and farming businesses during the drought.
“Another loan was AgriStarter, used for succession planning and new entrants in agriculture.
“AgriStarter has loaned over $70 million, assisting more than 80 people secure their first farm business, which is becoming increasingly hard due to the price of land.”
The review will consider the scope of the RIC’s activities after 30 June, 2026, and it is important to hear how concessional loans supports agriculture and rural communities, particularly during drought.
The report will be delivered to Agriculture Minister Murray Watt on or before 1 July, 2024. For more information go to:
https://www.haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/ric-review

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