No financial help for farmers -- English

  • 18/02/2016
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong / Newshub)
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong / Newshub)

The Government isn't going to come to the rescue of debt-stricken farmers who are struggling to survive low dairy prices, Finance Minister Bill English has told parliament.

After another slide in prices on Wednesday - the fourth this year - opposition parties are concerned about banks calling in debt.

In parliament on Wednesday Labour's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, asked Mr English whether he had sought assurances from the banks about their attitude to dairy debt.

"Federated Farmers is saying one in 10 farmers are facing pressure from their bank," he said.

Mr English said ministers, the Reserve Bank and the Treasury were involved in discussions with the banks.

"Although prices have dropped further ... this is an industry that has a very positive long-term view about its prospects," he said.

"There will be some farmers with very high debt levels who will be under pressure, unsurprisingly, from their banks."

Mr English said there were rural support trusts helping farmers in extreme circumstances.

"But the Government does not intend to initiate financial support for dairy farmers under pressure," he said.

NZ First's Richard Prosser later said in a statement the government was either under-estimating the problem or was deliberately turning a blind eye to it.

"Farmers with high debt are especially vulnerable from banks who are pressuring for repayments and sharemilkers who only received a portion of the payout are suffering," he said.

NZN

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