Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has announced a review of the Farm Household Allowance, which provides help for farmers facing hardship, particularly during drought.
Minister Littleproud recently announced farmers could now receive a fourth year of assistance from the FHA. Previously they could receive three years of assistance.
"The Farm Household Allowance has helped almost 8000 of Australia's approximately 80,000 farmers over the past four years as we've invested $230 million," Minister Littleproud said.
"More than 80 per cent of farmers surveyed have said they're happy with the structure of it and the assistance it provides.
“The current net asset threshold cut-off has been lifted to $2.6 million and farmers who are receiving less than $52,000 a year in income can apply for a hardship exemption regardless.”
Mr Littleproud said it was logical to review the assistance package, four years after it was first introduced.
"The Department of Agriculture estimates there may be 19,000 farmers eligible for Farm Household Allowance who have not applied for it,” he said.
"That prompted me to ask the question, why?
“We need to know the answer and this review will provide it. I've called again and again for farmers not to self-assess whether they qualify for the FHA.
“Farmers need to use the free help we provide–Rural Financial Counsellors–and talk through it with them.
"Government can't make it rain and heartbreakingly we cannot save every farmer. We cannot make decisions for them about whether they should buy feed in the hope it will soon rain, or when to sell off stock. But we can and do provide free expert advice through Rural Financial Counsellors and I urge farmers to use it.”
Mr Littleproud said drought policy needed to be “based on resilience and preparedness.”
“...With other agriculture bodies, we've agreed to pursue the NFF's drought strategy, which we'll work on over coming months,” he said.
"Regarding mental health, I remind rural people they can now receive Medicare for counselling done through Skype, after the first face-to-face appointment which is necessary to build a relationship with the counsellor."
Farmers wishing to know more about FHA eligibility should see their local Rural Financial Counsellor or call the Department of Human Services Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.