Banks now refusing most Southern Downs farmers, expert says
MOST farmers around the Southern Downs have maxed out their borrowing capacity and may face years of debt as a result of the current drought.
Rural financial counsellor for Southern Downs Micheal Fagg has noticed an "unbelievable" increase in the amount of property owners seeking free financial advice.
But for the majority, borrowing more money to feed their families and their animals is no longer an option.
"Most farmers have accessed the limit of the finances they can borrow," Mr Fagg said.
"Certainly they are borrowing money if they can, but there comes a point in time where you reach the limit of your borrowing capacity."
Mr Fagg said landowners faced difficult choices.
"In that case then the hard decision has to be made in planning how long you stay on the farm so you don't erode all your capital," he said.
"There is no quick result we go through all the options, and each case is individual."
He said most would make the decision to sell before they were forced to.
"Many want to get out and leave with some dignity."
But Mr Fagg said despite the circumstances, there had not yet been a farmer he couldn't help in some way.
"One of the main mistakes is that people self-assess whether they are eligible for support," he said.
"Test your eligibility for the farm household allowance."
Since the drought hit, Mr Fagg has helped more than 50 landowners lodge farm household claims through the Department of Human Services, with most having success.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help," he said.
Along with other organisations like the QCWA, Red Cross and Rural Aid, Mr Fagg was on hand at the Warwick Town Hall for a drought relief forum coordinated by the Southern Downs Regional Council.
The council is urging members of the community from farming and non-farming backgrounds to complete a drought relief survey that will help determine how $1 million in federal government funding will be spent on drought.
You can contact Micheal Fagg on 0419 732 591 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org