THE new owner of the Rural Finance (RF) organisation has reaffirmed its commitment to the Victorian Young Farmers’ Finance Scheme.
The Bendigo Bank recently bought Rural Finance from the state government and said it would not only continue RF’s Young Farmers’ Finance Scheme (YFFS) but enhance it.
Bendigo Bank said it had placed RF alongside Rural Bank in its agricultural portfolio and would boost YFFS’s annual funding by $2.5 million, lifting the figure to $25 million.
Staff at Rural Finance’s Warrnambool branch will continue to help young farmers get access to the scheme.
Rural Bank managing director and chief executive Paul Hutchinson said the 10 per cent increase in funding for YFFS reflected Rural Bank’s commitment to invest in agriculture and help its long-term growth.
“Young farmers are critical to the long-term success of farming in Victoria,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“The YFFS arms Victoria’s young farmers with the capital they need to progress into agricultural asset ownership.”
Mr Hutchinson said 2200 farmers had accessed the YFFS since it was established more than a decade ago. With about 16,000 commercial farmers in Victoria, the YFFS clients comprise about 14 per cent.
Mr Hutchinson said the scheme had a credit policy that recognised traditional lending criteria that needed to be reviewed to support young entrants into agriculture.
As well as its “discreet” credit policy, YFFS also provided concessional interest rates for loans not only for property, but also for livestock and machinery purchases, he said.