Pressure on banks to change

By Country News

Federal 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.

Mr 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,’’ he said.

Earlier in the week, the Commonwealth Bank donated $2million to drought relief.

That includes $1.75million to the Australian Red Cross’ national fundraising appeal, while $250000 will support charity Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program.

The bank made nearly $10billion annual profit last year.

‘‘CBA can do better and I hope they have more serious announcements in the pipeline,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

‘‘They’ve made a lot of money out of agriculture and it’s now time to give back.’’

He said the message on farm management deposits was sent loud and clear to 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.’’

Commonwealth Bank has 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.

Federal Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon is also calling for a new drought relief agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.