The Liberals and Nationals in Government are delivering real improvements to the support payment that puts food on the table, petrol in the tank and pay household bills for farming families struggling with the ongoing drought.
Nationals Senator for Victoria and Agriculture Minister, Bridget McKenzie, said the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) supports farmers in hardship whether it is caused by drought or is needed in the aftermath of the bushfires scorching much of the New South Wales and the Queensland coast.
“The successful passage of the Farm Household Support Amendment (Relief Measures) Bill makes this important support available to more farmers and more often,” she said.
“The Farm Household Allowance will now be available four in every 10 years, because regrettably droughts happen all too frequently.
“The legislation also allows the responsible Minister to make lump sum payments available if and when needed.
“It means that those whose time on the payment expires this financial year can receive up to $13,000 a couple or $7500 a single person. These payments should be in eligible farmers’ pockets by Christmas.
“The off-farm income offset can be applied in more circumstances, such as agistment, and we’ve increased the upper limit so that farming families who have more debt than income can count that income, up to $100,000 against their on-farm business losses.
“For some, that means they can access the support payment because their earnings are appropriately counted as paying down debt.
“It’s the first tranche of radical simplification to FHA following the independent farmer-led review of the payment.
“The allowance provides breathing space to farmers so they can sort out their finances and plan for the future. For that reason it’s time limited, in line with findings of the independent farmer-led review and the National Farmers’ Federation national drought policy.
“What I want is to make sure that those farmers who could benefit from this support do consider it.
“It is predicted that over 30,000 farmers could be eligible for FHA after further changes are legislated. We’ve been working to make the application process easier and shorter and a call to a Rural Financial Counsellor can help people work through that.”