Media Release

Income support legislation to help farmers in tough times

6 March 2014

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to stand by the nation’s drought affected farming families, introducing legislation today that will establish the Farm Household Allowance.

The government has already implemented an Interim Farm Household Allowance from 3 March, as part of the government’s $320 million drought package. The legislation today will bring into law the permanent income support scheme from 1 July.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the Farm Household Support Bill 2014would give farming families access to income support measures available to all other Australians in hardship.

“We’ve already moved in response to the current conditions in parts of New South Wales and Queensland by bringing forward more generous eligibility criteria to the interim scheme available now,” Minister Joyce said.

“Those who are eligible for the measure, known as the Interim Farm Household Allowance, will be eligible to transfer to the legislated Farm Household Allowance when it’s available mid-year.

“We understand that when income dries up along with the water, the value of on-farm assets is a barrier to most farming families’ ability to access income assistance.

“The new payment, the Farm Household Allowance, will be available to each recipient for three years, has a more appropriate farm asset test and will automatically entitle recipients to a Health Care Card, up to $3000 worth of training and a case manager.

“Importantly this legislation ensures the payment will be available to all farmers who need it, regardless of the cause of their hardship.

“It is a demand-driven program so no one who is eligible will miss out. Eligibility is based on individual circumstances – it’s not just available for drought.

“This government understands that in times of financial hardship, farmers still have jobs to do like feeding stock and carting water. 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. They just don’t get paid.”

For more information about the Interim Farm Household Allowance, the Farm Household Allowance, or other drought assistance measures call 13 23 16 or visit daff.gov.au/agriculture-food/drought.