CHANGES to the Farm Household Allowance that simplify the asset test for farming families have passed Federal Parliament.
The Morrison Government said the changes that passed parliament last Thursday build on improvements made by the Liberal and Nationals Government by making sure farmers receive the full rate of payment and a $10,000 training supplement.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the support payment was changed to better meet the needs and special circumstances of farmers experiencing hardship, particularly at a time when drought was putting so many under pressure.
“FHA is designed to lift the burden from our farming families, so they don’t have to worry about how they will fill the car, afford a school lunch or pay for groceries.
“We’ve already extended the payment so it’s available for four in every 10 years, we’ve made the treatment of income much simpler and we’ve introduced the ability for the minister to make lump sum payments, with the payment becoming available from 16 December, in time for Christmas,” she said.
“The changes passed today have simplified the asset test to allow farming families to combine farm and non-farm assets together as long as they are valued under $5.5 million.
“Those farmers who have looked to diversify as a buffer against the hard times may now be eligible thanks to these changes,” Ms McKenzie said.
“Farmers receiving FHA have more certainty about their rate of payment as it will no longer be varied as their incomes fluctuate for example, if they take on contract work—if farmers qualify they’ll be paid in full.
“The activity supplement has more than doubled – from $4000 to $10,000 – and can now be used to pay for travel and accommodation costs when farmers are undertaking eligible training and study,” the minister said.
“Service providers, like Rural Financial Counsellors, farm consultants, or local accountants can now conduct farm financial assessments for farmers to help them improve their circumstances.
“The changes are in line with the recommendation of the independent farmer-led review of the FHA.”
Ms McKenzie said since March 2014, farmers and farming families have accessed more than $375 million in support to provide some breathing space to decide how best to get through these tough times.”
To find out more about FHA or to check your eligibility visit the Department of Human Services website.