The Government is taking action to improve delivery of the Farm Household Allowance for irrigators.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said he had made a Minister’s Rule, which enables up to $1.1 million in net water assets to be exempt from the FHA assets test.
“Farm businesses applying for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) will benefit from clearer and simpler rules about the treatment of water assets, which will make it easier for farmers in hardship to access the payment,” Minister Joyce said.
“The Government believes farm irrigation assets should be considered as a farm asset when it comes to applying for assistance, however unfortunately this has not always been the case.
“Water should be treated in the same light as land, equipment and machinery that are needed to run a farm business, and from now on water will be treated that way.
“I have taken this action to strengthen the FHA in the same way I amended the Allowance to exempt farmers’ mandatory shares in their co-operative from the non-farm assets test.
“In time I intend amending the Farm Household Support Act 2014 to clearly and accurately recognise water as a farm asset.
“The Minister’s Rule exemption provides an immediate solution for farmers in need, including dairy farmers impacted by retrospective price cuts, and will enable more farm businesses to be eligible for the FHA payment.
“We have heard the concerns people have and we are doing our best to ensure those who need it can get this support.”
Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie said the Government was responding to concerns from farmers in need, including those who attended Dairy Roundtable meetings she chaired in Congupna and Tangambalanga in northern Victoria.
“The government believes the FHA should be available to those facing hardship who need it,” Senator McKenzie said.
“There was no Farm Household Allowance before the election of the Government.
“Under policies before FHA, dairy farmers affected by retrospective price cuts would have had no choice but to sell down vital farm assets to be eligible for social security assistance just to put food on the table.
“The Deputy Prime Minister’s decision is another example of decisive action to help farmers, like the swift implementation of the Dairy Support Package, and underlines our commitment to those who are doing it tough.”