From today, farmers in need will be able to apply for the Farm Household Allowance, which will provide income support for farming families doing it tough.
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and Minister for Human Services Marise Payne said the allowance would support farmers whether or not the hardship was the result of drought.
“This government understands that in times of financial hardship, farmers still need to run their farms. They can’t just walk away from these responsibilities and get a job in town – especially when the closest town may be some hours away,” Minister Joyce said.
“This allowance will also give farmers and their partners some support while they make decisions about the future of their farm businesses and provide them with support from a Farm Household Case Officer and, where appropriate, a rural financial counsellor.
“We understand that when income dries up, the value of on-farm assets is a barrier to most farming families’ ability to access income assistance – and that’s why this allowance includes a more generous assets test in comparison to other forms of income support.
Under changes announced in February as part of the national drought package, the new Farm Household Allowance contains more flexible eligibility criteria. As a result more than 1460 recipients are being supported, with over 1000 recipients benefitting from the more generous scheme that would otherwise have been ineligible under the previous Transitional Farm Family Payment.
“The Farm Household Allowance will be available to recipients for up to three years. Recipients will be automatically issued with a Health Care Card, have access to a range of other allowances and entitlements, and can access up to $3000 to pay for professional support, advice or training.
“There are a range of other measures available to support farmers that are available now for farmers in need who are doing it tough. I encourage farmers not to self-asses their eligibility for any of these measures and find out about the support options available,” Minister Joyce said.
Minister Payne said farmers who are currently receiving the Interim Farm Household Allowance and still require income support, should submit a claim for Farm Household Allowance by 14 July 2014 to avoid a break in payment.
“The Farm Household Allowance can be paid for up to three years and includes a fortnightly payment to help with day-to-day household needs, and a Health Care Card for farmers and their family,’’ Minister Payne said.
“If you have a partner and you both wish to receive Farm Household Allowance, both of you will need to submit separate claims. This is to ensure you are paid the correct rate of Farm Household Allowance.
“My department will have 29 Farm Household Case Officers located around Australia from 1 July 2014, who will have regular contact with farmers and will monitor their progress during the three years on payment.”
Source: Minister for Agriculture. For information on how to claim, visit humanservices.gov.au/rural or call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316. For more information, visit daff.gov.au/assistance.