Urgent call for rural banking inquiry: Uncovering the financial strain on farmers

Urgent call for rural banking inquiry: Uncovering the financial strain on farmers

According to Richard McIntyre from Federated Farmers, it's time to stop talking about a rural banking inquiry and actually make it happen.

McIntyre advocates for the investigation due to the high-interest rates imposed on farmers compared to urban borrowers. 

"Farmers are really struggling at the moment with huge interest payments...paying one, one and a half, two percent more than residential borrowers," he says.

This disparity raises questions about the fairness and reasonableness of the banking practices in rural areas. McIntyre expresses a desire to move beyond discussion to action, emphasising the need for transparency in banking rates and practices. The potential inquiry he suggests could be conducted through the Primary Production Select Committee, allowing for a broad examination of issues and input from various stakeholders. 

Another point of discussion in the conversation is the emergence of green loans and commitments by banks to reduce their emission profiles. McIntyre is cautious about these eco-friendly initiatives, fearing they might burden farmers who do not benefit from incentivised rates. 

He questions the fairness of "potentially charging other farmers more in terms of interest in order to provide those incentivised loans." 

The conversation also touches on local council rates, which McIntyre describes as an additional financial strain on rural businesses. He criticises the proposed rate increases as "absolutely insane," highlighting the inequity in how rural areas, despite utilising fewer services, often bear a greater burden due to their more valuable assets. 

Lastly, the lack of transparency in the banking sector is a key issue for McIntyre. He believes that the persistent questions from farmers about the differences in interest rates between rural and urban borrowers indicate a clear need for an inquiry. 

Furthermore, he argues for better transparency regarding what farmers can do to improve their interest rates.

"There could be far greater transparency...to help farmers essentially improve their risk profile and therefore get a lower interest rate." 

Richard McIntyre's call for a rural banking inquiry is a central focus, with the aim of uncovering truths and potentially easing the fiscal pressures on farmers.

Listen to the full chat between Richard McIntyre and Dominic George above.

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