Government Slams Commonwealth Bank Over Drought Relief
"I encourage farmers to vote with their wallets."
What you need to know
- The government is disappointed the Commonwealth Bank is not allowing farmers to use farm management deposits as offsets against their loans
- David Littleproud has told farmers to 'vote with their wallets' and change banks
- Earlier this week CBA donated $2 million to drought relief
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has told farmers to vote with their wallets, as he ratchets up the pressure on the Commonwealth Bank to help drought-stricken producers.
Farm management deposits allow farmers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to later use during tough times.
Littleproud is disappointed the Commonwealth Bank isn't offering farmers the option to use the deposits as an offset against their loans.
"I encourage farmers to vote with their wallets. If your bank doesn't offer an FMD offset product, tell them to go and take a running jump and go somewhere else," the minister said.
Earlier in the week, the Commonwealth Bank donated $2 million to drought relief.
That includes $1.75 million to the Australian Red Cross's national fundraising appeal while $250,000 will support charity Rural Aid's Buy a Bale program.
The bank made nearly a $10 billion annual profit last year.
"CBA can do better and I hope they have more serious announcements in the pipeline," Littleproud said.
"They've made a lot of money out of agriculture and it's now time to give back."
The Queensland Nationals MP said the message on farm management deposits was sent loud and clear to the banks at a recent drought meeting in Canberra.
"Government can't fix everything on its own - we all have a role to play helping rural communities in drought," he said.
Commonwealth Bank has also joined, Rabobank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ in no longer charging drought-affected farmers penalty interest on loan repayments.
Meanwhile, Labor is calling for better drought mitigation plans by using agricultural research and development corporations to help farmers build defences against climate change.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon is also calling for a new drought relief agreement between the commonwealth and state and territory governments.
If you want to help Australian farmers in need, you can donate to a registered charity. Donate online to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale, Drought Angels or Lions' Need for Feed. You can also support farmers by buying Australian grown produce at your local supermarket.