FARMERS in northern NSW who need help to plan their budget will have better access to financial counsellors.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) would get $1.6m in funding, with $350,000 allocated specifically to the northern NSW region.
The free service assists farmers, including those transitioning off financial support from the Farm Household Allowance, by giving them free access to professionals to work through their financial situation and build financial self-sufficiency.
“The Coalition government recognises that tough times can put severe pressure on farmers trying to manage both farm and household budgets,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“We now have well over 7000 people who have applied for and got access to the Farm Household Allowance.
“This allows them around $1000 a fortnight for a couple, so it keeps the groceries on the table, keeps the dignity in their lives.”
Mr Joyce said he fought hard to change the requirements, so more people could access the potentially life-saving financial help.
This allows them around $1000 a fortnight for a couple, so it keeps the groceries on the table, keeps the dignity in their lives.Agriculture Minister and New England MP, Barnaby Joyce
“More than 7300 people now have access to the Farm Household Allowance, when I started there was about 350,” he said.
Mr Joyce said the government strongly supported the RFCS, along with the people who work at the organisation, who “do it out of passion”.
“If you meet a rural financial counsellor, you are generally meeting someone who could get paid a lot more money if they did another job,” Mr Joyce said.
“But they do this because they absolutely believe in looking after the agricultural sector.”
Mr Joyce said the government was also supporting farmers exiting the FHA by extending eligibility to Farm Business Concessional Loans, which could be used for refinancing existing debt.