Peter and Caroline produce irrigated and dryland crops in the Riverina region of New South Wales. They also operate a farm contracting business.
About a year and a half ago they applied for a Farm Investment Loan from the Regional Investment Corporation. For Peter and Caroline, the main attraction of a loan from the RIC was that it allowed them to refinance existing debt at a lower rate, thereby freeing up cash flow to assist in everyday operations during the drought.
They found the staff at the RIC extremely helpful and keen and could not fault their commitment to helping the couple secure a loan. The announcement in November 2019 of a two-year interest free period on the RIC’s Drought Loans, and a further three years of interest-only repayments, prompted Peter and Caroline to apply for a Drought Loan instead of their original Farm Investment Loan.
Peter emphasised that the interest-free period would significantly ease pressure on the business. The money, when it came through, was used exclusively to refinance existing debt.
Peter and Caroline’s farm in New South Wales.
Peter and Caroline found the application process straightforward and fair.
However, they noted that it was lengthy – 16 months from start to finish. While some of this duration can be attributed to their decision to apply for a different loan halfway through the process, they also expressed that there was duplication between the processes of the RIC and their commercial bank.
They felt that there were opportunities to streamline these processes. Peter felt that farmers should be given an honest approximation, at the first stage of the application process, of the expected length of the process.
Peter and Caroline did not require the services of an accountant or rural financial counsellor at all.
In terms of what could be done to improve the services of the Regional Investment Corporation, Peter and Caroline felt that the maximum loan amount was insufficient and should be increased.
To find out more about the opportunities available through the Regional Investment Corporation visit www.ric.gov.au