Labor to force banks into mediation before foreclosure

THE State Government has introduced legislation to help ensure disputes between farmers and banks can be resolved through mediation before enforcement action takes place.

The bill aims to create an alternative to the expensive and drawn-out legal process farmers currently endue if they want to challenge aspects of their foreclosure agreements.

It won't prevent farmers from taking legal action if they want or using informal negotiations to resolve disputes.

State Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson said the bill would apply to all providers of rural credit.

"The forced sale of farm assets is always difficult, but there are times when farming families believe they have been unfairly treated when required by lenders to repay loans," Ms Donaldson said.

"Mediation is a confidential process that is quick, accessible and affordable."

Agforce General president Grant Maudsley welcomed the bill.

"Our key interest is in ensuring the best possible outcome for primary producers faced with farm debt problems, and we are not opposed to a mandatory approach to mediation when it can be shown to provide clear benefits over the current voluntary process."

Mediation is only one aspect of the newly-introduced bill.

It also includes $36million for farmers affected by drought and research into the financial performance of the agriculture industry.

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