• Coalition Government announces $190 million package for immediate drought relief.
  • The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) will include two lump sum supplementary payments worth up to $12,000 a year
  • The FHA assets tests will be changed to allow thousands more farmers to access support.

Farming families across Australia will receive immediate additional financial support to help them and their communities during drought.

The Coalition Government has announced two lump sum supplementary payments to the Farm Household Allowance. Farming families will now receive up to a total of $28,000 a year in assistance following a boost of up to $12,000 per annum to FHA for eligible households.

Thousands more farming families will be able to access the FHA as the Coalition increases the net asset threshold cap from $2.6 million to $5 million.

The announcements bring the total support provided by the Coalition to households and communities in drought to $576 million, with more to come.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the $190 million package of immediate relief, including support for mental health services, would be welcomed by the farming families doing it tough right across the country.

“We’re in this for the long haul and we will stand with our farmers every step of the way,” Mr Pasin said.

“I want to make sure farming families and communities get all the support they need to get through the tough times, recover and get back on their feet.

“While South Australia may not be experiencing the severe drought conditions of Queensland and NSW, there are parts of Barker that are in significant rainfall deficit and will do it tough over the next 12 months. This additional support is here for them when and if they need it.

Mr Pasin said it’s also important that Barker’s primary producers remember that the FHA is not only for those experiencing drought.

“Any primary producer who is doing it tough can apply. For example many in the Pork and Dairy industries are experiencing tough market conditions and could benefit from FHA,”

Mr Pasin said that raising the net assets cap for access to the FHA to $5 million will help farmers who have little cash flow.

“Owning expensive farm equipment doesn’t pay the bills,” Mr Pasin said. “That’s why we have lifted the net assets cap.”

Mr Pasin encouraged anyone who had previously applied for FHA and been knocked back due to assets to re-apply now that the cap had been lifted.

Additional measures include;

  • An extra $5 million in the Rural Financial Counselling Service, which will provide additional support for farmers – particularly those applying for the FHA for the first time.
  • $15 million to help the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal with small grants for not-for-profit community groups for locally driven targeted support.
  • $11.4 million in mental health support initiatives including:
  • Additional funding for Primary Health Networks in drought affected areas to cope with increased demand.
  • Those accessing counselling via Skype will no longer have their first appointment in person. This recognises the long distances and the cost of travel in money and time for rural people.
  • An Empowering Communities program that allows local communities to tailor local mental health responses to their needs. Eligible communities can apply for funds up to $1 million for community-led initiatives that improve mental health and community resilience.
  • Funding will be provided to ReachOUT to go out into drought affected communities and raise awareness of their youth and children’s counselling services group.
  • I encourage any primary producer in Baker to contact the rural financial counselling service to seek information about how these measures can assist. Rural Business Support has a freecall number 1800 836 211.Fast facts:
    • Households eligible for the Farm Household Allowance – a fortnightly payment totalling around $16,000 a year to help farming families in tough times – will receive two additional lump sum payments on 1 September 2018 and 1 March 2019. Couples will receive up to an additional $12,000 and single households will receive up to $7,200.
    • The change will apply for the remainder of the current financial year, with the review of FHA due back early in 2019 to provide further guidance on this important issue.
    • Today’s announcements bring the total support provided by the Coalition Government to households and communities during the current drought to $576 million with more to come. This figure is in addition to the concessional drought loans available to farm businesses through the Regional Investment Corporation and there is more to come.