The Australian Government has introduced improvements to the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) designed to help more than 30,000 farmers gain access to immediate support.
The changes are the latest response to the Independent Review of FHA.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie said the changes extended farming families’ access the FHA from three years in their lifetime to four years out of every 10, recognising that farmers experience hardships, including droughts, more than once in their lives.
“Our Government has listened to farmers throughout the independent review and proactively responded to all the recommendations,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Today, the Government introduces a Bill to provide drought relief for those who have exhausted their four years on FHA.
“The Bill will also allow for farmers to receive the FHA payment four years in every decade; make it easier for more farmers to access the payment by lifting the amount families can earn off-farm to $100,000 a year; and allow farmers to count income from adjustment against their losses.
“These changes reflect the nature of contemporary farming businesses – by recognising the reality that much of the income earned off-farm goes straight to servicing debt rather than putting food on the table.
“Our farming families don’t need to be worrying about how to pay the bills and feeding their families whilst they are struggling to feed their livestock and making tough decisions about their long-term future.
“A one-off drought relief payment of up to $13,000 for a farming family, and up to $7,500 for an individual is designed to help people determine whether they will be sustainable, should look at succession options or, in some instances choose to sell.
“For the first time, we’ll link farm enterprises with their directly-related businesses and consider income and losses together – not just income – a big change in how Government support payments are provided to families.
“Our Government had already made changes to make the FHA quicker and easier to access by reducing paperwork by a third and by temporarily increasing farm assets threshold to $5 million from 1 July 2019.
“It is all part of the radical simplification of the FHA application process and key policy settings that the Prime Minister announced on 27 September.”
These improvements include:
- a simplified assets test
- a significant redesign of the application process and form, including allowing farming couples to apply using the same form
- a strengthened case management approach to better support farmers in hardship through periods of financial difficulty.
“The Nationals have been standing by Australia’s farmers for 100 years and we’re not about to change that now,” Minister McKenzie said.
“We’re bringing these reforms online as quickly as possible, and not waiting for the full response before we act.
“We’ll continue to listen to farming communities and continue to implement recommendations of the farmer-led Independent Review of the FHA.”
The Rebuilding the FHA: a better way forward for supporting farmers in financial hardship – an independent review of the Farm Household Allowance” led by Michele Lawrence (dairy farmer from Tasmania), Georgie Somerset (Queensland beef producer and President of AgForce) and Professor Robert Slonim (Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney).
This Bill amends the Farm Household Support Act 2014 and the Farm Household Support Minister’s Rule 2014.
The FHA has been supporting Australian farmers since July 2014. It has paid more than $365 million to around 12,700 recipients in that time.
Source: Minister for Agriculture
I have recieved my four years farmhouse hold allowance i hope we keep getting the farm house hold allownce payment beond the 4 years while we are struggling with the drought its helping us so much
I applied for FHA due to drought conditions and cattle losses, reluctantly in Aug 2019′ as it has been bred into me not to ask for help. At the end of my straw and with the support of other local farmers going thru these hard times i bit the bullet and did the arduous task of all the paperwork… I waited weeks and months phoning and waiting weeks and months phoned and waited weeks and months more , when i could of done with the support of FHA until eventually in Feb 2020′ I went into Centrelink and rang the farm assistance 1300 number I was told that i am ineligible as my personal assets were over the allowable limit. Apparently the girl said on the 31st December someone had tried to ring me to let me know but did not leave a message. I did not receive any written notification although she says they sent it. It would appear the reasoning is that i had received a bit of inheritance from my dead step father in December to push my allowable personal assets over the limit. These personal assets included my Farm Managed Deposit and the little bit of money i had at that time in my farm account which i considered to be working money to buy feed. On October 8th and November 17th 2019 i was hit with the most severe fires which nearly totally cleaned me out . 80 of my breeding cows due to calve within days burnt to death in the fires .Totally devastated and near 2000 acres of my farm burnt leaving little of any feed left for my remaining 150 cows and calves , 60 replacement heifer and 160 weaners. So a decision came after talking with a LLS representative that I sell nearly all my breeding stock and hang onto the younger cattle, weaners and the calves to try and build stock back up for years to come as it is cheaper to feed smaller stock. Since then many cattle died as a result of the fire and drought conditions. Lots of my farm infrastructure was burnt out so now 10th February i have just received some insurance to replace some of the losses however the cattle were not insured as with some sheds and cattle yards and fencing. Now the rains have come but i will not be able to support the farm because i have the effects of the drought and fires for at least another 4 years until my stock grow to breeding age and return me an income, as i am unable to purchase more as there is no money for that at this time. I have applied for the farm grant which will help restore the farm but will not see an income. Michelle
I have finished my 4 years on FHA , & the drought has not finished by a long shot , have hand feeding all our cattle every day , have no feed in paddock what so ever , rang up about more cotton seed yesterday, it was $600 a tonne one month ago , this week $750 a , all my cows are calveing & need to feed , don’t know where this is going to end ? Can I please get a extension on my FHA under my sercomtances , how can I feed my & pay bills &feed myself , with no more FHA ?? Darren