New report reveals RIC farmers are more confident, recover easier and are more drought resilient despite challenges

24 November 2023

Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) today released its inaugural RIC Farm Loans Customer Insights Report 2023* which revealed RIC farmers are feeling confident in their farm business and the agriculture industry’s future while concerns about rising interest rates, drought, and income volatility are top of mind.

Of those surveyed, the main concerns identified were increasing interest rates (82 per cent), water security and drought (61 per cent) and income volatility (58 per cent). At the same time, RIC customers surveyed agreed their RIC loan had given them greater confidence in their farm business’ future (86 per cent) and the industry’s future (76 per cent), made drought and natural disaster recovery easier (88 per cent) and were now more drought resilient (83 per cent).

RIC Chief Executive Officer, John Howard said RIC exists to provide farmers with financial breathing space to better manage through situations outside their control and even though RIC farmers were facing serious challenges, their RIC loan has helped boost confidence in the future of their farm business.

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“From our RIC Farm Loans Customer Insights Report 2023, we can see rising interest rates are the biggest concern over the next 5 years, but 86 per cent of RIC customers surveyed agree their RIC loan has given them greater confidence in the future of their farm,” said Mr. Howard.

“It’s no surprise that the cost of operating a farm business and challenges faced by severe, prolonged weather disruptions are top concerns. Pressures from rising interest rates and declining commodity prices across most sectors are causing farmers to rethink their options and how they will continue to remain prosperous and grow.

“Our loans are available to farmers hit by tough financial times outside their control from drought, natural disasters, biosecurity issues or other market disruptions. It takes courage and grit to keep operating after facing these severe events, yet 88 per cent of customers surveyed agree their RIC loan has made this recovery easier.”

The RIC Farm Loans Customer Insights Report 2023 is based on independent research commissioned by RIC and was completed by more than 500 current RIC customers this year to understand what their RIC loan has meant to them, and their outlook for their farm business and agriculture industry.

Mr Howard said RIC had been doing independent research since 2020 and was able to see customer trends emerging from year to year, and while confidence had dipped since last year’s bumper agriculture year, RIC’s low-interest loans are there to help customers through tough financial times.

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“Our low-cost loans, low variable interest rate, and interest-only terms for the first 5 years have been a lifeline for thousands of farming families in times of drought, natural disasters, or other major financial disruptions,” said Mr Howard.

“While there was a slight decline in customer confidence in the future of their farm business this year to 83 per cent compared to 86 per cent last year, we’re still pleased to see RIC customers are largely feeling confident about their outlook despite the challenges.

“It’s good for farmers to know RIC is an option to help make it easier to manage financially when faced with unforeseen severe business disruption.”

Since 1 July 2018 when Australian Government farm business lender RIC was first established, 2,974 loans have been settled valued at over $3.20 billion as of 31 October 2023. Loans of up to $2 million are available for Australian farm businesses over 10 years with the first 5 years interest-only repayments followed by principal and interest for the remaining 5 years. The farm business loan variable interest rate is currently 4.52 per cent.

Read the full RIC Farm Loans Customer Insights Report 2023 here

Read more about RIC loans here