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Federated Farmers On Farm Debt Mediation Bill

Federated Farmers today appeared in front of the Primary Production Select Committee to oppose the Farm Debt Mediation Bill.

Federated Farmers' National Vice President Alistair Polson emphasised that his organization viewed any forced farm sale as a human tragedy, but was not convinced that statutory or forced mediation is the answer to the problem.

"We encourage and support banks and farmers working closely together throughout their entire business relationship, not last-gasp attempts at reconciliation after the horse has bolted," Mr Polson said.

Mr Polson said that a comprehensive survey of members on the proposed bill revealed that farmers do not want to run their businesses under statutory frameworks, including forced mediation with banks. Farmers believe that farm lending will be stigmatised by statutory intervention and the cost of all farm lending increased as a consequence.

Federated Farmers submitted that the small business and farming banking code of practice, as recently introduced amongst the major banks, was a major step towards achieving a working relationship right from the outset, he said.

The code of practice includes a mechanism for the early warning of problems, and an independent review of the business if necessary. Voluntary mediation in a timely manner can still be entered into at any stage of the relationship, but without the costs of a statutory scheme being an additional cost on all farmers and taxpayers, he concluded.


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