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25 July 2018: Debt survey shows financial landscape of the bush

6 August 2018

Total rural debt in Queensland is $17.2 billion, a rise of only 1.6 per cent since 2011 according to the 2017 Queensland Rural Debt Survey.

Launching the survey at Parliament House in Brisbane today, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the average debt per borrower down 12 per cent to just under $1 million.

“The 2017 survey provides an important snapshot of the financial state of our rural industries and will help inform both government and industry,” Mr Furner said.

“Rural businesses operate in a dynamic environment and debt levels will continue to be impacted by external factors such as the current drought.

“Debt funding from banks has long been a principal source of capital supporting agricultural businesses which include the 18,335 borrowers surveyed in this report.

“Unsurprisingly, the beef industry at $9.4 billion or 54 per cent represented the largest proportion of total rural debt in Queensland, followed by cotton ($1.3 billion or 8 per cent), sugar ($1 billion or 6 per cent) and grains ($0.93 billion or 5 per cent).

“The highly productive Western Downs and Central Highlands region represented $5.5 billion or almost 32 percent of total rural debt in Queensland, followed by the Southern Coastal Curtis to Moreton region ($4 billion or 23%) and Eastern Darling Downs region ($2.5 billion or 14%).

“The quality of rural debt has also improved since 2011 with 95 percent of the total value of rural debt rated viable (rating ‘A’) or potentially long term viable (rating ‘B+’) up from 85.9 percent in 2011.”

The 2017 Queensland Rural Debt Survey was undertaken by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) in collaboration with the Queensland Government Statisticians Office (QGSO) and with the support of all major rural lenders in Queensland and insights from agricultural industry associations.

Rural debt is defined as the total indebtedness of all farmers/rural enterprises throughout Queensland, where the servicing of the rural debt relies primarily on rural generated income.

The Survey was conducted as at 31 December 2017 and is the first Queensland Rural Debt Survey since December 2011.

QRIDA Chief Executive Officer, Cameron MacMillan said the apparent paying down of debt in 2017 by farmers capitalising on improved returns for some commodities in 2016-17 was also reflected in the strong growth in Farm Management Deposits in Queensland which doubled in value between 2011 to 2017 to $1.2 billion.

Mr MacMillan said another measure of longer term financial sustainability is the gap or ratio between total farm debt and the gross value of production (GVP) of Queensland agriculture which has narrowed from 178 per cent in 2011 to 123 per cent in 2017.

Mr MacMillan said the 2017 Rural Debt Survey provides a comprehensive breakdown of the value and quality of rural debt and the number of borrowers by industry and regions across Queensland.

“I wish to especially thank the banks for their participation in the 2017 survey and those rural groups that provided insights on industry trends,” Mr MacMillan said.

For more see the 2017 RDS overview, full report and technical review at www.qrida.qld.gov.au/rural-debt-survey

The Farm Business Debt Mediation Act 2017 passed last year, formally requires QRIDA to undertake the Queensland Rural Debt Survey every two years unless an equivalent national rural debt survey is available.

The next Queensland Rural Debt Survey is scheduled for December 2019.

Media: Brock Taylor 0427 018 178

QRIDA media: Brendan Egan 0428 909 246

Last updated
6 August 2018