Small businesses affected by drought need support too

Young corn growing in dry environment drought season on maize crop plantation

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has commended the National Australia Bank for its promise not to charge farmers affected by drought higher default interest rates on their loan repayments and to offset farm management deposits. At the same time, the Ombudsman hopes to see more banks follow NAB’s lead and extend such support to small businesses and rural industries who are also struggling to survive in drought affected areas

Ombudsman Kate Carnell said, “The economic and mental stress of Australia’s farming communities battling to operate during a drought is enormous. The flow-on effect of this is that small businesses are suffering and should also be offered some reprieve by the banks.”

Ms Carnell pointed out that rural industries supporting farmers and country townships also get caught up in the downward spiral during a drought, and other crises such as bushfires and floods.

“Too many are left having to solely rely on family, friends and the broader community during these hard times,” Ms Carnell said. “It’s important that banks stand by rural communities when they are doing it tough and build relationships that support economic growth in good and bad times. We are optimistically viewing the NAB announcement as a much needed change in bank culture and hope other banks might take a long hard look at themselves and follow suit.”