Guest post by: Patrick White

There have been several significant changes to the farming Centrelink support payment, Farm Household Allowance, which, considering the current seasonal conditions, is important to be aware of to ensure that farmers can potentially receive full advantage of the payment that is available.

  • Firstly, in July 2018 a farmer’s ability to receive the Farm Household Allowance payment has been extended by a further year, meaning that a farmer can now be on the payment for a cumulative total of four years. (Previously, farmers were limited to be on the payment for a maximum of three years.)
  • Secondly, there has been an increase in the net-farm assets test from $2.63 million to $5 million (only until 30 June 2019 ).
  • Thirdly, there has been an announcement of a Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment.
    • In total, this FHA supplement is worth up to $7,200 for single farmers and $12,000 for farming couples per household.
    • The FHA supplement is paid as 2 lump sum payments.

It is important to note that, to be eligible for the 1st Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment, farmers need to be on Farm Household Allowance by 1 December 2018.

To be eligible for the 2nd Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment, farmers need to be on Farm Household Allowance by 1 June 2019.

Eligibility for Farm Household Allowance is subject to both assets tests and an income test.  In relation to the income test, Centrelink will consider income for the current financial year, which at the moment is income for 2018/2019  ( including this up-coming harvest ).

What this means in practical terms is, if farmers believe that their total profit for this financial year will be less than the income test amounts ( roughly $25,000 for singles and $50,000 for couples ) and that they may be eligible for Farm Household Allowance, to potentially receive the 1st Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment (  up to $3,600 for singles and $6,000 for couples ), then farmers will need to apply before 1st December 2018.

Without an understanding of the above mentioned dates in relation to the Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment, many farmers may think that it would be prudent to wait until after harvest before applying for Farm Household Allowance (  because, rather than estimating what the up-coming yields will be, actual results will be known ).  If this approach is taken, farmers may potentially miss out on the 1st Farm Household Allowance supplement lump sum payment.

If farmers wish to apply for the Farm Household Allowance, Rural Financial Counsellors can meet with them on-farm and assist them in completing the relevant application forms.

The contact number for the Horsham office of the Rural Financial Counselling Service is (03) 5381 1646.

Patrick White has worked with the Rural Financial Counselling Service as a Counsellor since 2005. He operates out of the Horsham office servicing farmers across the Wimmera district and beyond.