The Coalition government will convene a drought roundtable in coming weeks for key stakeholders, including the National Farmers Federation and state farming bodies, to have their say on policy issues affecting our farmers as the drought situation worsens across NSW.
Minister for agriculture and water resources, David Littleproud said the roundtable will discuss long-term drought policy and strategy in the context of building resilience and drought preparedness during a changing climate.
On Tuesday the government announced plans to extend the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) from three to four years “to help the nation’s farmers with a more effective drought support”.
Minister Littleproud said the changes have come in the wake of 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.
This extra time will give them more breathing space to implement plans to become financially self-sufficient.- Minister David Littleproud
“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.
The Minister foreshadowed there would be further announcements in the coming weeks.
For more information on the support available for farmers, visit: http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought/assistance/sup-farmers-rural-communities-drought
FARMERS WELCOME EXTENSION
The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the Government’s plan to extend access to the Farm Household Allowance for another year.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the news would be a welcomed relief to farmers battling consecutive years of drought.
“Farmers in parts of Queensland, for example, have encountered up to seven years of drought.
“Until today, farming families receiving assistance through the FHA program were required to transition away from the allowance after three years, this is despite many still grappling with the financial pressures prolonged drought imposes."
Ms Simson accompanied the Prime Minister on his recent drought tour, also meeting with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud in Trangie to discuss strategies to most effectively assist farmers during drought.
Ms Simson said the wide-ranging discussion recognised there was no ‘silver bullet’ but rather a multi-pronged approach.
“The NFF believes a best-practice drought support strategy must address: risk management and preparedness; support during drought; and assistance to enable rapid recovery,” she said.
“The Farm Household Allowance is a vital part of the during-drought support for farming families.
“I strongly urge farming families doing it tough, and who I know are often reluctant to accept help, to apply for the Allowance."
Ms Simson said she looked forward to continuing to work with Minister Littleproud on the 'drought roundtable' to progress further strategies to help farmers, prepare, manage and recover from drought.
“Farmers are under no illusion that the climate is becoming increasingly variable and as a sector we must continue to adapt,” Ms Simson said.
“Drought has long been and will continue to be, a part of the farming landscape, but as a nation, we can be smarter and in how we support those most affected.”
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