NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said he had offered to administer NSW's share of the federal government's funding for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) instead of Centrelink, because he believed the RAA could do a better job.
It followed reports of NSW farmers being saddled with Centrelink over-payment debts worth thousands of dollars and also the government's own report, Rebuilding the FHA: A Better Way Forward For Supporting Farmers in Financial Hardship.
It was commissioned by David Littleproud as Agriculture Minister, recommended the "uncoupling" of Centrelink from the FHA.
"I get a lot of feedback from a lot of farmers about the difficulty in obtaining the federal assistance because the Federal Government does not have a farm specific authority like we do with the RAA," Mr Marshall said.
He said while Commonwealth funding remained vital for helping farmer families, there was a way to achieve more efficient outcomes.
"Instead of them trying to administer all their programs, just give NSW the money and we can administer it through our authority because they are the experts," Mr Marshall said
"In NSW, we have a specific authority where all it does is provide support to people on the land. That's what they do, so they're specialists. Federal Government doesn't have that
"They can do it a lot better than the Federal Government can because it's not what they do on a regular basis.
"So far, 160,000 farmers across the State have accessed and received some form of assistance. They are all farm businesses, but many families run many of those businesses."
There are are 7045 people on the FHA program and more than 12,400 have been helped by it.
Mr Marshall thought there were a number of factors why the RAA could distribute the FHA more effectively.
"The Federal Government refer everyone through Centrelink, and with all due respect to the wonderful staff who work at Centrelink, it's not an organisation designed around providing assistance to farmers, or speaking to farmers, or rolling out assistance to farmers," he said.
"They're used to doing what Centrelink does. Dealing with unemployment benefits, disability payments, all of those sorts of things.
"We provide more assistance to NSW farmers than the Federal Government does. Our application process and our forms are a lot easier to fill out. For example, now, if you received assistance prior to July 1, and you are back in the new financial year for more assistance, we don't require you to fill out any application forms because we've already got your details."
Just slightly tongue-in-cheek, Mr Marshall said he thought his suggestion may still be under consideration by the federal government.