Additional funding supports primary producers during tough times



The Rural Financial Counselling program, a crucial lifeline for farmers, fishers, foresters, and small related enterprises, has received a significant boost with the announcement of 1.7M in additional funding from the Australian Government.

The additional funding will support services in South Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. These regions were selected due to the impact of severe weather events including fires and flooding, and commodity downturns, like the impact on the red wine grape industry on SA.

Facing the unpredictable challenges of droughts, biosecurity outbreaks, natural disasters, and commodity downturns, Rural Business Support (RBS) has delivered the Rural Financial Counselling Service in South Australia since 2006 and the Northern Territory since 2011.

RBS Business Financial Counsellors are based in regional and rural communities across SA and the NT, and offer free, confidential, and independent assistance to those experiencing, or at risk of, financial hardship.

“We’ve been receiving a steady increase in enquiry from red wine grape growers, primary producers who are still recovering from the Murray River flood, livestock producers and fruit and vegetable growers,” said Brett Smith, CEO.

“We’ve also seen an increase in enquiries from marine scale fishers who are responding to industry reforms and abalone fishers following the AVG outbreak. In addition, we’re working closely with the SA Produce Market and AusVeg following the recent discovery of Queensland Fruit Fly near Salisbury.

“The funding boost underpins the delivery of the financial counselling service where the need is greatest, particularly in the Riverland and across our 18 grape growing regions where demand has been steadily increasing over the past year.

“RBS welcomes this funding announcement as it demonstrates the Government is listening to farmers about their challenges and the need for additional support.”

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Murray Watt said the extra funding would help producers and small-related businesses who are at risk of or experiencing financial hardship to access independent financial counselling.

“This is practical, hands-on support for members of the ag industry to help them plot a way forward for their business. The program helps build resilience into farm businesses
so they can better manage potential future challenges.”

He continued, “I encourage all primary producers to access the RFCS before reaching crisis point.”

The team at RBS encourages any primary producer, fisher or forester who is concerned for their financial future to contact them for a confidential chat on 1800 836 211.