Russell Webb says $5m asset threshold will rule out a lot of farmers

MIGHTN'T GO FAR: Russell Webb (inset) says a lot of farmers will be ruled out by the asset threshold announced by Malcolm Turnbull yesterday.
MIGHTN'T GO FAR: Russell Webb (inset) says a lot of farmers will be ruled out by the asset threshold announced by Malcolm Turnbull yesterday.

THE federal government’s $190 million drought package will rule out a lot a “large percentage of primary producers”, one farmer has said.

Tamworth councillor and farmer Russell Webb said the support was welcomed but was “not sure it would go a great distance”.

He said the value of farming land, around Tamworth, had “increased dramatically” in the last few years and it could edge a lot of producers out of the $5 million asset threshold for household support, announced by the government on the weekend.

“Land prices have increased dramatically relative to the price of some of our commodities,” Cr Webb said.


“A lot of people are buying close to regional centres because they’ve got the services they need and want close by and they have the opportunity to send children to school and have at home without sending them to boarding school.”

He said the government would need to start looking at support to roll-out in the future.

“One of the things they’ll need to think seriously about is looking for ongoing support when it does rain and the rural sector  is in recovery,” he said.

“The real pressure will come on to the people who go out and try and restock.

“There’ll be real pressure on grain farmers to go out and have to start planting, applying fertiliser.

“A lot of farming operations will have expended much of their resource base trying to stay-afloat through years of drought.”

Parkes MP Mark Coulton said the drought relief package had been welcomed in his electorate.

“The net asset threshold cap for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) has now been increased from $2.6 million to $5 million, meaning more farming families will be able to access the FHA,” Mr Coulton said.

“I have no doubt this will be a much-welcome boost for farmers across my electorate currently feeling the devastating impacts of the drought.”

New England MP Barnaby Joyce said it was a “very good step”, but admitted local farmers had raised concerns with him directly the asset limit wasn’t high enough.

“The alternative question is would you prefer it to stay where it was,” Mr Joyce said.

He said the additional FHA payments would be welcomed also.

“For many people it is a substantial step,” he said.

“It’s not a loan, but a cash payment, you’re not expected to pay it back, that’s straight in sky rocket.”

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