Farm drought support extended

THE Federal Government will extend the Farm Household Allowance from three to four years to help the nation's farmers with a more effective drought support.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud said the changes followed the drought listening tour with the Prime Minister a fortnight ago.

"Farmers said extending FHA was a sensible measure which would help them, and we listened," he said.

"The drought has been going on for seven years in parts of Queensland. While FHA is essentially an adjustment payment which comes with free financial counselling to help farmers restructure, four years is a more appropriate timeframe to do this.

"This extra time will give them more breathing space to implement plans to become financially self-sufficient so they are better placed to sustain their farming businesses.

"We will extend the period farmers and their partners will be able to receive FHA from three to four years through the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2018. I remind farmers not to self-assess whether they're eligible for FHA – I fear many eligible families have not applied.

"We will also hold a drought roundtable in coming weeks with key farming stakeholders, including the National Farmers' Federation and State farming groups.

"This roundtable will discuss long-term drought policy and strategy in the context of building resilience and drought preparedness during a changing climate."

More announcements are likely in coming weeks. The government already provides a range of support measures to assist farming families in hardship. These include FHA, the Rural Financial Counselling Service and Drought Assistance Concessional Loans.

Mr Littleproud said that the government also recently boosted funding of the Rural Financial Counselling Service to more than $70 million to ensure the program keeps up with demand and will help farming communities to generate their own wealth and build strong, healthy livelihoods.

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