Friday, 05 April 2024 15:09

Rural banking inquiry coming?

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Parliament’s primary production committee chair Mark Cameron. Parliament’s primary production committee chair Mark Cameron.

Farmers may soon get their wish for an independent inquiry into rural banking.

Parliament’s primary production committee has opened “a briefing” to investigate concerns raised by farmers about the banking sector.

Committee chair and Northland dairy farmer Mark Cameron, ACT, told Rural News that committee members have heard the growing concerns and calls for a briefing into the rural banking sector and responded.

“Farmers and growers have voiced their concerns over what they say is a ‘disparity’ between rural and urban banking.

“The select committee has opened a briefing on this to ascertain if in fact these concerns are founded and how they may be addressed.”

Federated Farmers, which has been pushing for the inquiry, is claiming a major advocacy win.

“This is something we’ve been calling for since September last year, so it’s good to see the politicians are sitting up, taking notice, and doing something about it,” says Feds dairy chair Richard McIntyre.

“While it may not be a full-scale inquiry just yet, it is a positive first step forward that will allow Members of Parliament to take a much closer look at the issue.

 “I’m hopeful that once they get their heads under the hood and start looking around, they’ll be able to see where things aren’t operating as well as they could be, and get to work sorting it out.”

 Federated Farmers survey members every six months on banking issues, and the results of the latest survey are of real concern, noted McIntyre.

“Farmer satisfaction with their banks is at an all-time low, and the number of farmers reporting they’ve come under undue pressure from their bank is at an all-time high.

 “Things are clearly not well in the rural banking system. That’s why Federated Farmers have been so vocal in calling for an independent inquiry.

 “It’s still very early days, and we’re yet to see the terms of reference, but we will definitely be engaging in this process on behalf of our members.”

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