Drought-affected business owners are being encouraged to put their hand up for a new loan on offer from Monday.
The new Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) loan for farm-dependent small businesses will allow livestock transporters, equipment repairers, harvesting contractors and the like to loan up to $500,000.
The federal government loans can be used to refinance existing debt or just keep their businesses going until the drought breaks.
Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce president Juliana McArthur urged local business owners to apply for the loan.
"There is no doubt that the prolonged drought Gunnedah and district has experienced has been severe, with a significant impact on our ag businesses. To survive, and prepare for future challenges, the RIC loans can fund your business's growth or free up cashflow which is a good advantage," Mrs McArthur said.
"We know that our other industry and retail businesses beyond the farm gate are hurting too. The policy seems to be to get ag businesses spending again, to assist other businesses in our towns. We are watching the situation closely, to ensure all our members benefit.
"Recent rain helps with confidence but we need to see lots more before our economy can recover."
Mrs McArthur said the loan was also interest-free for the first two years.
"Eligible businesses can use the loan for working capital or to refinance up to 50 per cent of existing debt, for a 10-year term, with interest only repayments at 3.11 per cent in years three to five (inclusive). You can apply any time and there are no RIC fees involved."
Guidelines and application forms for the loans can be found on the RIC's website.