Joyce's farm plan will leave the budget parched

Assisting farmers through periods of drought with short-term loans makes economic sense. Taking on $7 billion of risky debt, however, is another thing.

Farm debt in Australia has increased by almost 75 per cent over the past decade, from $40.3 billion in 2004 to an estimated $70 billion in 2014. Barnaby Joyce, the federal minister for agriculture, has argued the government should take on $7 billion of the riskiest proportion of this debt.

The suggestion by Joyce is that a government Rural Reconstruction and Development Bank be established to buy up bad loans, making the government joint owner of some farm businesses until the loans are repaid.

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