Exceptional Circumstances Programs

​The Exceptional Circumstances (EC) Interest Rate Subsidy closed on 30 June 2012. The last EC declaration lapsed on 30 April 2012. All remaining EC programs closed for applications on 30 June 2014.

The EC Handbook PDF [581 KB, 12 pages] Word [51 KB, 12 pages] was developed to provide information on EC policy arrangements and application processes.

The Exceptional Circumstances Interest Rate Subsidy (ECIRS) provided business support to farms that were viable in the long term, but were in financial difficulties due to an EC event.

Interest rate subsidies were provided as a grant calculated against 50 per cent of the interest payable on new and existing loans for the first year of an EC declaration and at 80 per cent in the second and subsequent years, up to a maximum of $100,000 in any 12-month period and $500,000 over five years.

Payments were delivered by the states and territories under an intergovernmental agreement. The states contributed 10 per cent and the Commonwealth contributed 90 per cent of the funding delivered to farmers. In addition, the Australian Government paid the states and territories $750 for each application processed under the program.

In 2008 Australian, state and territory primary industries ministers agreed drought support based on EC was no longer appropriate in the face of a variable climate. The decision to close the program was based on the findings of successive reviews of drought policy since 1997 which found that EC assistance was ineffective and could result in farm businesses being less responsive to drought conditions.

For information on drought and farmer assistance

  • Drought and Farmer Assistance Hotline: 13 23 16
  • For languages other than English: 131 202
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