Farmers and drought-affected communities to receive an extra $100m in federal funding

Drought-affected communities and farmers will get an immediate cash injection, with the Federal Government promising a new $100 million support package.

Key points:

  • The Federal Government commits an extra $100 million for drought-affected communities

  • More than half of the money will go towards the Farm Household Allowance to make it more accessible

  • Local governments will also get money to spend on projects to support their communities

  • Fresh from his tour of the United States, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today visit drought-ravaged Dalby, on Queensland's Darling Downs, to pledge the money.

  • The package includes a $33 million commitment to resuming the Drought Community Support Initiative, which provides cash-strapped farmers, contractors and families with emergency payments of up to $3,000.

  • That program is administered by the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and other charities to ensure it targets those most in need.

  • The assistance also includes $1 million payments to 13 additional local government areas to spend on water infrastructure upgrades, mental health support and other projects deemed necessary.

  • The LGA's to received those funds include the Western Downs in Queensland, Temora in New South Wales, Coorong in South Australia and Moyne in Victoria.

  • The Government will also commit $51.5million to simplify and extend the Farm Household Allowance (FHA), which is paid out at the Newstart rate to eligible farmers.

A recent farmer-led review found the FHA program was unnecessarily complex and did not work for farm business operators.

The Government estimates there are currently 24,000 farmers who would qualify for the payments, but fewer than 7,000 currently receive it.

The Coalition has already made changes to simplify the FHA application process, but the federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie described today's changes as a "radical simplification" of the "application process and key settings".

"We will remove the requirement for business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment from four years in total to four out of every ten years, simplify the assets test, recognise agistment as being part of primary production income, and redesign the application process," she said.

"For the first time, couples will be able to apply for the payment using just one application."

The Prime Minister came under pressure this week for Australia's perceived lack of action on climate change policy, and he defended the Government's commitment to drought support.

The National Farmer's Federation continues to call for a comprehensive drought policy and has previously criticised the Coalition for offering short-term hits instead of a long-term strategy.

Source: ABC News By regional affairs reporter Lucy Barbour and national rural reporter Kath Sullivan