Farm support grows

REVIEW: Criteria for the Farm Household Allowance has been amended and new guidelines apply from this week. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

REVIEW: Criteria for the Farm Household Allowance has been amended and new guidelines apply from this week. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

FARMING families doing it tough, regardless of drought, will be able to apply for the Farm Household Allowance from this week. 

In a joint statement, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Human Services Minister Marise Payne said under changes announced in February as part of the national drought package, the new Farm Household Allowance contains more flexible eligibility criteria.

This allowance includes a more generous assets test ... - Barnaby Joyce

“The Farm Household Allowance will be available to recipients for up to three years," Mr Joyce said.

"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."

The allowance will provide farmers and their partners 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," Minister Joyce said.

“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 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 July 14, 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 July 1, who will have regular contact with farmers and will monitor their progress during the three years on payment.”

For more information on the Farm household Allowance, visit humanservices.gov.au/rural or call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.

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