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Help is on the way for drought stricken farmers

HELP is on the way to drought-stricken primary producers, likely in the form of better terms on government-backed concessional loans, but it could be another week before the package is confirmed.

After touring western Queensland and New South Wales on the weekend, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed Cabinet would consider Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce's drought proposal in the next fortnight.

Mr Abbott has pledged a "fair and responsible" drought assistance package would be considered, but the amount of help and nature of the package are yet to be decided.

APN last week reported the Cabinet was due to consider Mr Joyce's proposal in the next fortnight, with concessional loans likely to be part of the package.

Mr Abbott said on Sunday the package would include income support, better access to concessional loans, and "an emphasis on social support".

The package follows pressure from Mr Joyce and The Nationals on their Liberal colleagues to take action on the drought, despite concerns about the state of the budget.

It is understood the extra loans on offer could be more than the current $650,000 limit, have lower interest rates and possibly include a longer repayment term.

While Cabinet met in Canberra on Monday, no announcement was made by APN's deadline, and it is understood the package would not be formally considered by Cabinet until next week.

Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said Labor would back any package, but said not putting it to parliament during sittings last week was a "missed opportunity".

Topics:  barnaby joyce drought financial assistance


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