The Queensland Government has approved a $30m extension to a crucial agricultural industry loans scheme.
The Primary Industry Productivity Enhancement Scheme (PIPES) administered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority has already received applications for $100m to Queensland farmers and other agricultural businesses this financial year, with $47m loaned to support primary producers in their early years and another $43m approved in sustainability loans.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said an additional $20m in loans would be made available through PIPES and another $10m in loans would be available specifically to prepare against the threat of African Swine Fever.
“Applications for this highly successful loan program were closed last Friday because applications for the loans reached the $100m cap for 2019/20,” Mr Furner said.
“These loans are a vital investment in Queensland’s agricultural sector, which remains a key pillar of the state’s economy.
“Queensland is facing and extraordinary economic impact in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it even more important that farm businesses can invest in their productivity.
“These loans will support regional jobs and communities and will ensure our agricultural sector emerges from the coronavirus pandemic even stronger.”
In 2016 the Palaszczuk Government PIPES loans was increased from $60m to $100m annually. The cap on PIPES loans was lifted above $100m in 2017 after the loans threshold was reached before the end of the financial year.
Last week Mr Furner met representatives of the Queensland Farmers Federation, who urged the State Government to consider lifting the loans cap.
Mr Furner said the loan scheme for African Swine Fever preparedness were an important biosecurity measure to help the pork industry.
“We have seen ASF have devastating impacts in other countries, including some of our close neighbours,” he said.
“This program will help to protect the Queensland industry as it builds the best possible defences.”
QRIDA CEO Cameron MacMillan said the record rate of take-up of productivity loans was very positive with four in five, or close to 80 per cent of loan applications received, approved this financial year.
“Sustainability Loans of up to $1.3 million have been used by producers to invest in water infrastructure and drought mitigation measures, make the most of renewable energy systems or advancing agtech, purchasing livestock and other investments to increase the productivity of their primary production enterprises,” Mr MacMillan said.
“First Start Loans of up to $2 million have helped new and next generation primary producers to purchase their first property, buy into the family farm business or lease country.
“To date this financial year, close to $50m has been approved for beef cattle producers, while sheep, sugarcane and dairy producers have also been able to benefit from the loans.
“QRIDA has also been able to support more niche industries, including prawn fishing, pig farming and berry growing enterprises.”
Since the PIPES scheme opened 25 years ago, more than $1bn has been invested in primary production enterprises across the state.
Since 2016-17, the Queensland Government has increased the annual PIPES funding from $60 million to $100 million.”
For more information see www.qrida.qld.gov.au or Freecall 1800 623 946
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries
The Honourable Mark Furner