Commonwealth Bank of Australia will donate $2 million to support farmers in drought, including $1.75 million as part of a national fundraising appeal with the Australian Red Cross.
It is also pledging $250,000 to support Rural Aid’s Buy a Bale program as part of its donation.
The bank has also joined some of its peers in promising it will not apply default interest rates on\ farm business term loans for farmers in drought if borrowers fail to meet repayment commitments.
Announcing the bank’s expanded support for drought-affected farmers, CBA chief executive, Matt Comyn, said drought was having a devastating impact on farmers and regional communities.
“Our donation will support the work being done by our local branches to provide much needed help for farmers, including hay to feed livestock,” he said.
“We have been really inspired by the generosity of customers and employees, who live and work in some of the hardest hit areas, such as the New England region in NSW, who have already raised more than $40,000 in recent weeks.
“We wanted to further support their efforts in a way that we hope will help the communities that are doing it tough at the moment.
“This appeal will bolster efforts to deliver practical help like livestock feed and household support for farming families in need.”
Throughout August, donations will be accepted in all CBA branches across Australia with funds raised being distributed via the Australian Red Cross to drought-affected communities through an independent panel, which will ensure community input.
Australian Red Cross chief executive officer, Judy Slayter said by making a donation Australians would help support farming communities and people who need help most.
“No matter where you live, whether it’s in a metro or regional area, you have the opportunity to make a difference and show your support for communities affected by severe drought,” she said.
Customers in regional NSW or ACT can also “buy a bale of hay” for a farmer, with funds going to the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.
CBA’s $2 million donation is in addition to a package of drought assistance measures available for its farming and commercial business customers in drought-affected regions and aims to provide help with some pressing needs, including feed for livestock and mental health and wellbeing support.
In a further show of support for Mr Comyn said customers in financial difficulty caused by the drought, CBA will not apply default interest rates on their business term loans.
This aimed to give customers peace of mind, as well as the flexibility to make arrangements to get their businesses back on track.
The CBA drought assistance package also includes the provision of a confidential telephone counselling service to help support customers concerned about the effects of the drought on them and their families.
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