Thoroughbred breeders in Australia will, from July, be able to access millions of dollars worth of loans from the federal government after a review by the Regional Investment Corporation concluded that its definition of ‘primary producer’ should be widened to include the thoroughbred industry.

 

The RIC was set up in 2018 in order to support the growth of primary producers in Australia, and has approved loans to the value of $3.08 billion since its inception, offering several different loans to foster development and support participants in times of need. However, its access had previously been limited to primary producers of food and fibre until the changes announced yesterday, which will come into effect from July.

 

Tom Reilly, CEO of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, who lobbied hard to encourage the government to change the eligibility criteria and include thoroughbred industries, said the development will make a ‘big difference’ to many thoroughbred breeders across Australia.

 

“We’ve been pushing the government to change the definition (and include thoroughbred breeders),” said Reilly.

 

“I’ve met with minister Littleproud and raised this a number of times with him. He asked RIC to review the situation but we put together a pretty substantial document last year as part of the review explaining why it was necessary and where the benefits would be and help grow and sustain the industry.

 

“It’s really pleasing that effort has been rewarded because I think it will make a big difference to a number of breeders.”

 

The RIC helps primary producers with access to five different types of loans, including a farm investment loan, an AgriStarter loan and support to combat drought and land redevelopment.

 

There will be $266 million available from the RIC during the next financial year for concessional loans to farm businesses to support regional Australia.

 

“There’s all sorts of different areas you could use this (loan) for,” Reilly continued. “It allows people to borrow up to $2 million from the government which has to be matched by a commercial loan. But the government aspect on all the loans is interest only for five years, so it really gives us a concessional loan rate of just over two per cent variable interest rate, which is very competitive at the moment.

 

“You could use it to buy more land and, importantly, you can use it to buy more stock as well as machinery and fencing etc … It’s a great way for people to either restructure their debt or expand their business. For younger businesses, this will be a real help and you can also use the money if there are plans for succession. So, really, there’s enough flexibility to use these loans for almost anything you can imagine.”

 

Minister David Littleproud, deputy leader of the National Party and minister for agriculture, said the change in the definition would result in a further strengthening of the thoroughbred industry as a ‘global leader’.

 

“The thoroughbred industry is an important part of our regional communities and economy, so I am pleased thoroughbred breeders will now have access to RIC loans,” he said.

 

“These RIC loans provide vital assistance in the bush, and I expect breeders will use this finance to invest in their businesses.

 

“It will further strengthen Australia’s reputation as a leader in the global thoroughbred industry.”

 

For more information and details of how to apply for the loans, visit https://www.ric.gov.au/loans