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NFF applauds Government's commitment to Farm Debt Mediation Scheme
4 February 2019
The National Farmers' Federation has welcomed the Government's commitment to establish a Farm Debt Mediation Scheme as part of its response to recommendations from the Banking Royal Commission.
The Government also endorsed recommendations by Royal Commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne to give special consideration to distressed agricultural loans.
"The Royal Commission shone a bright light on Australia's banking sector, on which Australian farmers are heavily dependent," NFF President Fiona Simson said.
"Justice Hayne's recommendations and the Government's affirmative response, has recognised the unique situations farm businesses often face and the always unequal playing field when negotiating with the big banks."
Ms Simson said the NFF had been advocating for a Farm Debt Mediation Scheme for some years.
"When farm loans become distressed there are many complex issues to work through.
"The chance to refer a challenged farm loan to mediation represents a greatly enhanced chance to reach an outcome that is fair and equitable for all involved."
Ms Simson acknowledged the Government's endorsement of the recommendations to have 'specialised' agricultural bankers manage distressed farm loans; to cease the pursuit of interest repayments when there is no reasonable prospect of recovery and that the appointment of receivers should be a remedy of last resort.
"The recommendations are particularly salient at the moment as farmers across the eastern seaboard and Tasmania manage drought, floods and bushfires.
"No doubt farmers contending with these natural disasters will need to negotiate paths forward with their lenders.
"The recommendations outlined by Justice Hayne form a sound basis from which these negotiations should be had," Ms Simson said.
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