Australia's Westpac to Lend A$100 Million to Drought-Hit Farmers

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Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp said on Thursday it would disburse A$100 million ($74.2 million) in cheap loans to farmers as a record dry spell hits parts of the nation, while the country’s lenders fight to regain public trust amidst an ongoing misconduct inquiry, Reuters reported. The drought in Australia’s east, one of the worst on record, is impacting every area of rural life, often with global trade and price implications. Already many cattle graziers are being forced to sell stock they can no longer feed. Westpac will offer some affected farmers loans at “heavily-discounted” rates and would also give impacted customers the option to defer their loans for up to 12 months, Australia’s second largest lender said in a statement. “This is the first time in Westpac’s 200-year history that we have set aside such an amount to provide immediate and long-term financial relief to our agribusiness customers,” National Agribusiness Manager at Westpac said. Read more.