Allowance to stay at $5m

By Country News

More farmers will be able to access vital assistance when they are going through tough times, with the net farm asset threshold for Farm Household Allowance maintained at $5million.

Federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie announced the decision to keep the asset test increase last week.

‘‘Australian farmers are very resilient, but like everyone else there are times when they need additional support,’’ Senator McKenzie said.

‘‘The FHA is in place to help farmers facing hardship, particularly during drought, to implement plans to improve long-term financial circumstances and assess their options.

‘‘Last year the government temporarily increased the cap from $2.6 million to $5million to support farmers affected by the current drought who were in financial difficulties, but were notionally asset rich.

‘‘The change was temporary, pending the FHA review, which ultimately recommended making the temporary increase permanent.’’

She said the increase allowed farmers to access support without having to sell farm equipment or take other measures that could jeopardise the income-producing capacity of the farm.

‘‘It also recognises that farm assets can be difficult to sell quickly and, during tough times, are often sold for less than they’re worth.

‘‘Increasing the asset threshold to $5million increases the potential pool of FHA recipients by approximately 8000 additional farmers.

‘‘The changes introduced today build on the extension of the time farmers and their partners will be able to receive FHA from three to four cumulative years.’’

■For eligibility or to seek advice from the free Rural Financial Counselling Service, phone 1800 686 175 or the Department of Human Services Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.