A comprehensive guide to available drought assistance options

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.

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/

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

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 info@thirstycow.org.au 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

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: droughtangels@gmail.com.

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

Source: Australian Dairy Farmers