Drought Programs and Rural Assistance
In the 2013–14 Budget, the Australian Government announced its contribution to National Drought Program Reform–a $99.4 million investment in a new Farm Household Allowance to support farmers and their partners when they are in hardship.
The new allowance will be available from 1 July 2014 and provide farm families experiencing financial hardship with assistance, without the need for a drought or Exceptional Circumstances declaration. The allowance will provide eligible farmers and their partners with up to three years of fortnightly income support paid at a rate equivalent to Newstart Allowance (or Youth Allowance for those under 22).
National Drought Program Reform
Australian, state and territory primary industries ministers have agreed the framework for a new national package of drought programs to replace the existing Exceptional Circumstances arrangements. The package includes:
- the new Farm Household Allowance
- Farm Management Deposits and taxation measures
- a national approach to farm business training
- a coordinated, collaborative approach to the provision of social support services
- tools and technologies to inform farmer decision making.
The aim of this package is to help farmers prepare for and manage the effects of drought and other challenges, rather than waiting until they are in crisis to offer assistance. It is designed to deliver a more productive agricultural sector by helping farm businesses to make informed decisions and capture future opportunities.
The new package has been informed by the 2008–09 National Review of Drought Policy and the two year Pilot of Drought Reform Measures in Western Australia.
More information about the national drought program reform process and the new drought package is available at our drought program reform – questions and answers page.
Existing forms of drought and rural assistance
The new national package of drought programs will be implemented from 1 July 2014. In the lead up to the new arrangements, the Australian Government is continuing to provide a range of assistance to help farmers manage the effects of drought and other challenges.
Anyone wishing to enquire about such assistance should call the Drought and Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16 or view the information contained at the Assistance Measures page.
Farm Finance is an initiative of the Australian Government comprising four measures designed to build the ongoing financial resilience of farmers who are currently struggling with high levels of debt. Further information on the measures included in the initiative can be found at the Farm Finance page.
Rural Financial Counselling Service
The Rural Financial Counselling Service Program provides grants to state and regional organisations to provide free rural financial counselling to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses who are suffering financial hardship and who have no alternative sources of impartial support.
National Rural Advisory Council
The National Rural Advisory Council (NRAC) is a skills–based independent advisory council to the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
NRAC advises the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on matters such as rural adjustment, regional issues, training, exceptional circumstances (EC) applications, extensions to EC declarations and other matters as requested by the minister.
Media and publications
Media releases and fact sheets on drought, as well as relevant media contacts within the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
14 May 2013