Audit finds Gillard farm loans hampered by inexperience

TWO Federal Government farm loan schemes costing almost $4 billion were hampered by a lack of experience in the Agriculture Department and a failure to complete a cost-benefit analysis of the policy.

An audit of the Gillard and Abbott government schemes - the Farm Finance and Drought Loans programs - has condemned the way they were put in place.

The Auditor-General found the first policy was announced before a cost-benefit analysis or modelling on how many farmers would take it up.

It found the department, which had not previously run a loans program, lacked experience in both initiatives, although it learnt from the Gillard program in implementing the Abbott policy.

But as of February this year, just 46% of the Farm Finance loans offered had been given out, and about 71% of the Drought Loans funds had gone to farmers.

It also found the department had struggled to ensure farmers could access the loans, given problems long aired about the definition of who was eligible.