Taskforce to Find Solutions for Severe Drought in Australia

A new drought finance task force will bring major banks, the Australian government and the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) together as eastern Australia continues to grapple with bone-dry conditions.

The new group formed by representatives of the government and of ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, and Rabobank will determine the impact drought is having on farmers and small businesses in rural and regional communities.

The task force will also advise the government, bank chief executives and the NFF on measures to help alleviate pressure on producers.

“Importantly, the task force will consider and respond to the impact of the drought on local small businesses as well as farmers because many local small businesses depend on farming activities,” treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

Agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has welcomed the establishment of the Federal Government’s newly-announced Drought Finance Taskforce. Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said the bank was fully supportive of the aims of the task force and welcomed the opportunity to be involved. “The opportunity to bring together the agricultural sector’s major financial providers with government and the National Farmers’ Federation is a very positive initiative, which will help facilitate a coordinated approach to supporting drought-affected farmers and rural and regional businesses,” he said. Knoblanche said Rabobank had a range of measures in place to support its clients, who had been impacted by the current drought conditions.

Wheat production during the 2018/19 season will total 19.1 million tonnes, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said in September. ABARES in June previously pegged Australian wheat production as 21.9 million tonnes, but the country’s chief commodity forecaster cut its outlook because the country’s east coast has recorded less than 20% of its typical rainfall in the months before the report. The east coast is Australia’s second-biggest wheat producing region after Western Australia. Lower wheat production will reduce Australia’s wheat export capacity, supporting benchmark prices which last month rose to their highest in more than a three years amid concerns over a shortfall in global supplies, according to Reuters.

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