Warning of tough finance season ahead

Jo FulwoodCountryman

WAFarmers president Dale Park believes farm finance may be tougher to access for some farm businesses in the 2014 season, as banks attempt to reduce their exposure in the eastern Wheatbelt.

Mr Park said while conditions had improved significantly across the Wheatbelt in the past few months, the banks would still be taking a close look at businesses that were a potential risk.

"Banks will be trying to reduce their exposures all round - certainly for the people who have lower equality," he said.

Mr Park said workshops to be held early next month would help growers to work through issues associated with accessing farm finance. "What we are trying to do is alert people to the fact that finance is going to be tougher to get next year," Mr Park said.

The workshops will be held in Dalwallinu, Merredin and Lake Grace on October 1, 2 and 3, respectively.

Guest presenters include Chris Wyhoon from the Rural Financial Counselling Service, Geoff Hall from Bird Cameron, Paul McKenzie from Agrarian Management, Chris Moore from Westpac and Phil Brunner from Lark Lawyers.

A panel session will discuss preparations for managing financial risk and uncertainty.

Mr Park urged farmers in the areas to attend the workshops and said mapping out a financial strategy should not be put in the "too hard basket".

"We are trying to get people to think about looking at their finances before harvest because last year there were people battling to get their finance straightened out before they put their crop in, which was a little bit late," Mr Park said.

"What we've seen through the rural financial counselling service is that a lot of growers put it in their too hard basket, but the best way of dealing with these things is to be in front of the action, rather than being reactionary.

"These meetings are in response to what we've seen happening over the past six or eight months (in the eastern Wheatbelt).

"Things aren't going to get easier, they are going to get tougher, so let's get this situation moving sooner rather than later."

Titled 'Taking Care of Business ... in uncertain times', the forums will assist farm businesses to understand the changing expectations from banks and will have multiple plans on accessing competitively-priced farm finance.

The forums are free for WAFarmers members and $20 for non-members. Lunch and refreshments are included.

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