Tassie farmers facing hardship eligible for allowance

As Tasmanians show their caring spirit by pitching in to help Mainland farmers through donations of hay and financial donations, Tassie farmers facing hardship are being urged to apply for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) payments boosted by the Coalition Government.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said while the focus had been on Mainland farmers struggling with drought-like conditions, there are up to 700 farmers in the State that could be eligible for the allowance.

Senator Martin said some farmers, especially on the East Coast and parts of the North West Coast, had experienced 1-in-20 year rainfall deficiencies in the last 24 months.

“There are currently 48 Tasmanian farmers receiving a FHA payment and overall 93 have been granted assistance since 2014,” Senator Martin said today. “Under the FHA changes, 700 Tasmanian farmers could be eligible for hardship assistance.

“The figures show that Tasmanian farmers are not immune from drought-like conditions and I recommend any producers facing hardship apply for FHA payments to ride through any tough times.

“While the focus has been on Mainland farmers facing hard times with the drought, there are pockets of farmers in Tasmania also doing it tough, and it should be remembered that the FHA payments are for farmers facing hardship not just those hit by the big dry.

“Many Tasmanians have been doing a fantastic job donating to charities helping drought-hit Mainland farmers, but we should not forget our Tassie producers. Tasmanians should also help all of our producers by supporting the #GrabATassie campaign encouraging shoppers to buy Tasmanian-grown fruit, vegetables and other produce.”

The Coalition Government announced on Sunday a $190 million package for drought relief with two FHA lump sum supplementary payments worth up to $12,000 a year with the asset test threshold changed to allow more farmers to access support. The announcement brings the total support by the Coalition to households and communities in drought to $576 million.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said raising the net assets cap for access to the FHA to $5 million will help farmers who have little cash flow.

“Owning expensive farm equipment doesn't pay the bills,” Mr Littleproud said.

“These threshold changes mean an additional 8000 farmers could become eligible for FHA support.”

Farmers wanting to access FHA support should contact their local Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) on 1800 686 175. For FHA eligibility, visit the FHA website

Fast facts:

·        Households eligible for the Farm Household Allowance - a fortnightly payment totalling around $16,000 a year to help farming families in tough times - will receive two additional lump sum payments on 1 September 2018 and 1 March 2019. Couples will receive up to an additional $12,000 and single households will receive up to $7,200.

·        The change will apply for the remainder of the current financial year, with the review of FHA due back early in 2019 to provide further guidance on this important issue.

·        Sunday’s announcements bring the total support provided by the Coalition Government to households and communities during the current drought to $576 million with more to come. This figure is in addition to the concessional drought loans available to farm businesses through the Regional Investment Corporation and there is more to come.