Drought and Rural Assistance

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On 26 February 2014, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Tony Abbott MP, and the Minister for Agriculture, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, announced a drought assistance package worth $320 million to support those farm businesses, farm families and rural communities facing hardship brought on by drought.

Key components of the drought package include:

  • More generous criteria for accessing income support will be made available to farmers from 3 March 2014 instead of 1 July 2014.
  • Drought Concessional Loans totalling $280 million will be allocated to give eligible farm businesses the resources to recover from the effects of drought.
  • Assistance of up to $12 million to assist drought-affected farm businesses to install water-related infrastructure.
  • $10 million in assistance will be available to help reduce the impact of pest animals in drought-affected areas.
  • $10.7 million to increase access to social and mental health services in communities affected by this drought.

A summary of these measures are available in the drought package factsheet.

Drought and rural assistance for farmers

The Australian Government provides programs to support farm families and farm businesses in hardship. Information on assistance provided by the Australian Government, including assistance for drought affected farmers, is available on our assistance page, or by telephoning the Drought and Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.

National Drought Program Reform

The Australian, state and territory governments are working to implement a new national approach to drought programs from 1 July 2014. The new approach, which will replace the existing Exceptional Circumstances arrangements, will help farmers prepare for and manage the effects of drought and other challenges, rather than waiting until they are in crisis to offer assistance, as well as supporting viable farms during prolonged or severe droughts. It is designed to deliver a more productive agriculture sector by helping farm businesses to make informed decisions and capture future opportunities.

In response to drought conditions across large areas of eastern Australia, the government has decided to bring forward key elements of the income support arrangements that were to apply from 1 July 2014 via an Interim Farm Household Allowance. For more information please visit our assistance page.