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A comprehensive guide to available drought assistance options

7 August 2018

Farmers managing drought may be able to access support for needs ranging from livestock fodder, everyday living expenses and access to financial and health services. The below list details the help available at a Federal and State Government level and that via charities and other private initiatives. The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) strongly urges farmers not to ‘self-assess’ and to check their eligibility by contacting the below relevant agencies or by speaking with a rural financial counsellor.

Federal

GOVERNMENT

The Farm Household Allowance (FHA):
Provides eligible farmers and their families experiencing financial hardships support through planning and training for long-term financial improvements as well as income support for up to four years.

The FHA program provides:

- A fortnightly payment and supplementary allowances of up to $590 (such as rent assistance, phone and pharmaceutical allowances and Health Care card).
- Individual case support with a Farm Household Case Officer and Rural Financial Counsellor
- A financial assessment of the farm enterprise up to $1,500.
- A $4,000 activity supplement that gives farmers and opportunity to develop skills, access training and pay for advice to better manage their business.

On Sunday 5 August, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced changes to the FHA. Eligible farmers will soon be able to receive two lump sum payments worth up to $12,000 for households and single households will get $7,200. The asset threshold has also increased to $5 million to allow more farmers to access support.

The first payment will be made on September 1 2018 and the second will be made on March 1 2019.

Assess your FHA eligibility here: www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/farm-household-allowance/resources/our-videos-can-help-you

For more information call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.
For FHA guidelines visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/farm-household-allowance/guidelines

To apply for the FHA visit: www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/farm-household-allowance

The Farm Management Deposits (FMD):
Is a scheme which assists primary producers to deal more effectively with fluctuations in cash flows by helping to manage financial risk and meet business costs in low-income years by building up cash reserves. Eligible primary producers can set aside pre-tax income from primary production in years of high income, which can be drawn upon in future years when it is needed.
For more information visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/fmd

The Managing Farm Risk Program:
Provides rebates up to $2,500 for advice and assessments to help farmers prepare and apply for a new insurance policy that assists with the management of drought and other production and market risks.
For more information visit: www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/mfrp

The Drought Concessional Loans:
The scheme is designed to assist farming operations that have experienced significant financial impact as a result of the drought.
Eligible businesses must have been operating for at least three years and have good long-term prospects of returning to profitable trading with sustainable debt levels.
For more information call 1800 875 675 or visit: www.ric.gov.au/

The Regional Investment Corporation:
Is a low interest loans directly to struggling farm businesses and administers financing to state and territory governments through the National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility.
Farmers can apply for a farm investment loan or a drought loan with a variable interest rate of 3.58% interest rate for up to $1 million.
For more information visit: www.ric.gov.au/

CHARITABLE & PRIVATE INITIATIVES

Rural Aid:
Is a non-for profit organisation that provides assistance and relief to those in rural areas struggling with the adverse effects of nature including, but not limited to, drought, floods and other natural disasters in Australia.
Rural aid is the holding organisation for campaigns such as Buy a Bale (www.buyabale.com.au/) and Farm Rescue (www.farmrescue.com.au/).

Visit the Rural Aid site on: www.ruralaid.org.au/
To register as a farmer in need of these services visit:www.ruralaid.org.au/farmers/ or to donate visit: www.ruralaid.org.au/donate/

Thirsty Cow:
Is a drought and bush fire appeal which provides financial support to affected farmers as well as fodder delivery, fencing, vehicle maintenance and animal care services.
Farmers can self-nominate by emailing or call 1300 45 11 88 or visit the website on: www.thirstycow.org.au/farmers-in-need/

The Salvation Army:
Provides drought affected farmers in remote locations with grocery vouches and cash grants and fund rural chaplains.
Farmers can reach out for support by visiting the website: salvos.org.au/about-us/latest-news/disasters-other-appeals/supporting-nsw-farmers-and-communities-affected-by-drought/

Farmers can access mental health support from:
Lifeline: call: 131 11 14 or visit: www.lifeline.org.au/ and
Beyond Blue: call: 1300 224 636 or visit: www.beyondblue.org.au

New South Wales:

Emergency Drought Relief Package:
This package aims to help farmers manage the effects of the current drought and includes:
- Drought Transport Subsidies (for more call 1800 678 593 or visit: www.raa.nsw.gov.au/)
- Waivers on government fees and charges
- Local Land and services rates (visit: www.lls.nsw.gov.au/ or call 1300 795 299)
- Fixed water charges in rural and regional areas (visit: www.waternsw.com.au/ or call 1300 662 077)
- Class One agricultural vehicle registration costs (visit: www.service.nsw.gov.au/ or call 13 77 88)
- Farm Innovation Fund interest charges (visit: www.raa.nsw.gov.au/assistance/farm-innovation-fund or call 1800 678 593)
For more information visit: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/climate-and-emergencies/droughthub/emergency-drought-relief-package

CHARITABLE & PRIVATE INITIATIVES

The CWA NSW:
Is a disaster Relief Fund provides grocery vouchers and household expense vouchers. Farmers can self-nominate by visiting: www.cwaofnsw.org.au/droughtaid.html%20-%3E
For more information call (02) 8338 1595

Victoria:

Victorian Government Concessions:
Concessions are available to low income Victorians experiencing difficulty in paying their council rates, water, gas and electricity bills. Discounts are available on essential services to ease the financial burden for low income Victorians who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships.
For more information visit: services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/service-providers/

Agriculture Victoria:
Provide many services to assist farmers during adverse seasonal conditions including personal, technical and financial support.
For more information visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/

Farm extension Services:
On-farm focused extension services delivered by Agriculture Victoria’s provide a signpost information and advisory services to spot farm businesses manage dry seasonal conditions.
Call Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit their farmer workshop page on: agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/farm-management/farmer-workshops

Victorian Better Health Channel:
Provides health and medical information that is quality assured, reliable, up to date, easy to understand, regularly reviewed and locally relevant.
For more information visit: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/

Queensland

Drought Assistance for primary producers:
The Queensland Government is providing drought assistance through multiple programs to farmers who are affected by drought. These programs include:
- Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) freight subsidies and water infrastructure rebate
- Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS)
- Land rent rebates
- Water license waivers
- Transport-related drought assistance measures
For more on all of the above information visit: www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/rural-disaster-recovery/drought/assistance

CHARITABLE & PRIVATE INITIATIVES

Drought Angels:
Provides stock feed, pre-paid visa cards for farmers, local produce vouchers (within the affected community) and face-to-face or phone services to drought-affected farmers. To apply and for more information visit: www.droughtangels.org.au/about/ or email: .

South Australia

The South Australian Government Primary Industries and Regions:
Provide South Australian specific information on federal drought support programs as well as farm management decision tools.
For more on Primary Industries and Regions visit: pir.sa.gov.au/primary_industry/industry_support/farm_support
For more on farm management decision tools visit: pir.sa.gov.au/primary_industry/industry_support/business_and_risk_management_for_farmers

**Please note, this information should not be viewed as an endorsement, by the National Farmers’ Federation, of the organisations listed above.

Media Enquiries: Media Enquiries: NFF - Laureta Wallace
0408 448 250


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