Barnaby Joyce says he’s lending his ear to north Queensland farmers concerned about rural debt and drought.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce will hold talks with debt-laden Queensland cattle farmers as he faces criticism over delays to the federal drought package rollout.
Mr Joyce will meet members of the Gulf Cattlemen’s Association, which is demanding the government intervene with banks to give north Queensland farmers special consideration on loans.
The group says more than half of the 150 cattle families it’s surveyed fear for their future while some have been forced to sell off assets.
Mr Joyce says intervention is an option being canvassed.
“Obviously, we can have the negotiations with the bank,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
The group blames the suspension of the live cattle trade and protracted drought conditions for the debt crisis.
More than 75 per cent of Queensland remains drought-declared months after the federal government announced a $280 million financial assistance package that only recently opened up to farmers.
There are concerns dry conditions could continue, with the likelihood of an El Nino event developing.
Mr Joyce also appears to be facing criticism from colleagues over the difficulties drought-hit families are facing accessing welfare support.
Fellow Nationals MP Bruce Scott is expected to raise the issues with the Farm Household Allowance scheme in parliament this week.
Mr Joyce has been having talks with Treasurer Joe Hockey about better managing drought assistance.
Labor says informal discussions aren’t good enough and called for a national drought policy.