Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has told farmers to vote with their wallets, as he ratchets up pressure on the Commonwealth Bank to help drought-stricken producers.
Mr Littleproud is disappointed the bank isn’t offering landholders the option of using farm management deposits as an offset against loans.
The mechanism allows primary producers to remove money from their taxable income during good years to use during tough times.
“I encourage farmers to vote with their wallets. If your bank doesn’t offer an FMD [Farm Management Deposit] offset product, tell them to go and take a running jump and go somewhere else,” the minister said on Friday.
Earlier in the week, the Commonwealth Bank donated $2 million to drought relief.
That includes $1.75 million to the Australian Red Cross’s national fundraising appeal while $250,000 will support charity Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program.
The bank made nearly $10 billion profit last year.
“CBA can do better and I hope they have more serious announcements in the pipeline,” Mr Littleproud said.
“They’ve made a lot of money out of agriculture and it’s now time to give back.”
The Queensland Nationals MP said the message on farm management deposits was sent loud and clear to the banks at a recent drought meeting in Canberra.
But Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused the government of inaction on drought since coming to power in 2013.
“I’m tiring of Turnbull government ministers blaming everyone else for the situation we now find ourselves, having done next to nothing over the course of the last five years,” Mr Fitzgibbon told AAP.
He has unveiled a drought mitigation policy which uses agricultural research and development corporations to help farmers build defences against climate change.
If Labor wins the election, it would pursue a Commonwealth-state drought relief agreement.
“This is not something that’s going to help a farmer tomorrow or next week or even next month,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“But if we’d done this work over the last five years, people would be coping much better with drought.”
Mr Fitzgibbon would welcome further immediate federal government support but said it was not up to the opposition to come up with drought relief packages.