The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today issued the February 2014 Agribusiness Loan Monitor, showing that bank interest rates have held firm over the last quarter. Chief Executive Officer of the NFF, Mr Matt Linnegar, said that bank rates are in line with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) rates that stabilised at 2.5 per cent since the rate cut from August last year. “The fact that banks continue to keep their respective interest rates in line with the RBA rate will certainly help farmers, particularly those who have been hit by the current drought,” Mr Linnegar said. “While the NFF is vigilant in pursuing a policy environment that support agriculture, we encourage all farmers to talk to their financial lenders to make sure they are accessing the best available interest rates. “Farmers need some level of assuredness in planning. The various financial instruments available to farmers to help manage risk play a vital role.” Mr Linnegar said. Mr Linnegar spoke on industry competitiveness yesterday at the annual Outlook conference held by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resources Economics and Science (ABARES). Mr Linnegar stressed the multitude of factors that contribute to maintaining competitiveness in agriculture. “While some areas have certainly been hit by drought, the value of farm exports is set to rise and the overall farm-gate returns for the last year have risen. This trend is destined to continue. To take advantage of trade opportunities, ensuring competitiveness for our industry is essential,” Mr Linnegar said. “It was reassuring to hear government acknowledge the need to address aspects such as infrastructure investment and reduction of red-tape at Outlook. Industry is responsible for making its own decisions, but government needs to provide an environment that supports agriculture. “Tools such as the Agribusiness Loan Monitor help contribute to farmers’ ability to make decisions. The keys to ensuring agricultural industry competitiveness is for government and industry to work together to achieve increased profitability for businesses, and better outcomes for the Australian economy, society and environment,” Mr Linnegar said. The Agribusiness Loan Monitor is compiled by leading money market monitor Canstar and published by the NFF. The February Monitor is available http://www.nff.org.au/get/4431.pdf[here], and previous editions are available http://www.nff.org.au/publications.html#cat_2119[here].