Farm Innovation Fund should open up for oyster growers

NSW Farmers welcomes the NSW Government’s election commitment to amend the criteria of the Farm Innovation Fund to make it more accessible to the aquaculture industry. 

The proposed changes to the Farm Innovation Fund criteria would allow access to low interest loans for those who operate fishing and aquaculture businesses. 

NSW Farmers Oyster Committee Chair, Caroline Henry, said most oyster farmers are currently excluded from the fund due to requirements around land ownership and the proposed changes would give a much needed boost to the NSW industry. 

“The industry has been proactive in promoting and growing the potentially lucrative oyster market. Produce, like the Sydney Rock Oyster, could become iconic provenance-based items on international menus, fetching premium prices.”

“To kick-start these lucrative economic opportunities, oyster growers need access to finance. Banks are reluctant to lend to lease holders and often the only viable option has been to borrow against their own homes.” 

Mrs Henry said the Department of Primary Industries has forecast that the demand for Sydney Rock Oysters could double over the next five years. 

“There are a lot of oyster growers who want to innovate and expand their businesses to meet this demand, but without access to finance, this has been difficult”

Mrs Henry said opening up the Farm Innovation Fund to aquaculture would be a positive development, however the next State Government will also need to address other barriers to industry growth such as the uncertainty of lease arrangements for oyster growers.  

Date: Tuesday 5 March 2019
Media Contact:   Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988