REVEALED: Western Downs farmers in $6 billion of rural debt
FARMERS in the Western Downs and Central Highlands comprised nearly a third of debt in all of Queensland last year.
A rural debt survey developed by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority claimed Queensland farmers had amassed a total debt of $19.10 billion.
The Western Downs and Central Highlands takes up approximately 32.85 per cent of that total figure.
The report defines rural debt 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 report estimated Queensland had 18,232 borrowers in 2019, and the average debt per borrower was about $1.05 million.
The debt proportion broken up by major industry presented the following figures:
– Beef: 55.89 per cent,
– Grain: 6.71 per cent,
– Grain/grazing: 6.29 per cent,
– Sugar: 5.8 per cent,
– Cotton: 5.78 per cent, and
– Others: 19.56 per cent
The Western Downs’ debt lies mainly in the beef, grain, grain and grazing, sheep/wool, and cotton industries.
The report identified that in most industries, “prolonged dry periods” accounted for the increases in accumulated debt.
With prices rising and not much rain falling, growth and cultivation has been halted, and many farmers have been forced to apply the breaks in their respective industries.
In the entire state, debt has risen by 10.75 per cent since 2017, where the total debt figure was $17.24 billion.