Improvements to the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) introduced by the Australian Government will help more New England farmers through tough times including drought.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the government had listened to local farmers and was increasing support through the FHA.
“We have listened to the concerns of our communities and I fought to make sure our electorate was represented with Tamworth hosting a hearing of the nation-wide FHA Review,” Mr Joyce said.
“As the drought continues our support grows. We always know there is more you can do but this is yet another substantial step in assisting those who are dealing not only with the weather but also their financiers.
“Among the changes is an extension for access to the FHA to four years in every 10 – this recognises that people may need to access financial hardship payments again in the future.”
Other changes will lift the amount families can earn off-farm to $100,000 a year in recognition of the reality that much of the income earned off-farm goes straight to servicing debt as well as allow farmers to count income from agistment against their losses.
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 with decisions about whether they will be sustainable, should look at succession options or, in some instances choose to sell.
“We don’t want our local farmers to have to worry about how they’re going to pay the next bill, we want them to be able to focus on what they do best,” he said.
“The Nationals have been standing by Australia’s farmers for 100 years and we’re not about to change that now.
“We’re delivering these improvements as soon as possible to make sure our farmers and their families can continue access much needed support.”
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.
The Bill introduced to the House of Representatives amends the Farm Household Support Act 2014 and the Farm Household Support Minister’s Rule 2014.