Yesterday the Farm Debt Mediation Bill 2015 passed a second reading vote in the State’s Upper House, having been introduced by Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, David Ridgway.
The Bill seeks to provide protection and financial security for farmers by enforcing a mandatory mediation process before a creditor is able to foreclose on a farming operation.
"It is no secret that farming in South Australia comes with its challenges; what my Bill will do is provide a bit more financial certainty and security for our farmers," said Mr Ridgway.
"Primary production is the backbone of South Australia’s economy and we need to be doing everything we can to ensure farmers have the best possible opportunity to keep their farms operational.
"This is a tried and proven model which has been in operation in NSW and Victoria since 1994 and 2011 respectively.
"There is no reason why South Australian farmers should not be afforded the same protections as their East coast counterparts.
"I have received support across all sectors for this Bill, including Rural Business Support, Grain Producers SA, the major banks and a number of other industry bodies."
Mr Ridgway highlighted the significant power imbalance between farmers and creditors, usually the banks, which could be alleviated through mediation.
"Often farmers can be unsure or intimidated by the process; this Bill will make sure everyone has a chance to sit around the table and discuss the best way forward," Mr Ridgway said.
"It is about giving our farmers the opportunity to have their case heard by creditors and negotiate a solution with an independent mediator."