The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) program provides assistance to farming families experiencing financial hardship, no matter the cause of that hardship.
The program provides eligible farmers and their partners with a package of assistance that includes:
- up to four years of fortnightly income support (in every 10 year period)
- ancillary allowances such as Pharmaceutical Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Rent Assistance and Remote Area Allowance
- a professional financial assessment of the farm business (worth up to $1,500)
- funding to help develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice (up to $10,000 and can now include reasonable travel and accommodation to undertake training)
- regular support of a case manager.
On 27 September 2019, the Australian Government announced a radical simplification of the FHA application process and key policy settings, in response to an independent FHA review that was undertaken in 2018.
The Australian Government’s response to the Review includes a number of key amendments to legislation and simplification of processes.
- exempting the profit from the forced disposal of livestock that is put into a Farm Management Deposit (effective from 1 July 2019)
- lifting the off-farm income threshold to $100,000 and allowing anyone running at a loss to access the offset and treating income from directly–related businesses (eg. agistment) as primary production income (from 16 December 2019)
- redesign of the application process – a new online claim that can be used by both members of a couple (effective 1 February 2020)
- paying the maximum rate only (or nothing if the income is above the thresholds) (from 11 June 2020)
- simplifying the assets test to remove the distinction between farm and off-farm assets. There will be a single threshold of $5.5 million net assets from 11 June 2020
- changing the definition of who can complete the Farm Financial Assessment. The definition has been expanded to include farm consultants and Rural Financial Counsellors (from 11 June 2020)
- increasing the amount of the Activity Supplement to $10,000 in a person’s lifetime and allowing funds to be used for reasonable travel and accommodation to undertake training (from 11 June 2020)
- removing the requirement for business income reconciliation (BIR) from 1 July 2020.
Business Income Reconciliation Waiver
On 11 May 2021 Minister Littleproud announced that FHA debts caused by an incorrect estimate of business income between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2020 will be eligible for a waiver.
FHA recipients who received payments between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2020 should ensure that their taxation paperwork for the relevant financial year(s) is in order. This will allow Services Australia to complete the reconciliation process starting in early 2022. The taxation paperwork includes:
- Personal tax returns
- Partner’s personal tax returns (if you have a partner)
- Business balance sheets for 30 June
- Business tax returns
- Business profit and loss statements
- Business depreciation schedules.
Do you have questions? Contact the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.
From 1 July 2020, the requirement for BIR was removed going forward. The waiver will fully implement the recommendation in the FHA review to remove BIR.
Check if you are eligible for Farm Household Allowance.
- are a farmer
- are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- are at least 16 years of age
- have a right or interest in land and use it for a farm enterprise.
- is in Australia
- has a significant commercial purpose or character.
- contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise
- enter into a financial improvement agreement, or have one in place already.
You can apply as a farmer, or as a farmer’s partner.
Each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
You cannot receive FHA if you:
- currently receive other pensions or social security benefits
- have already received the payment for 4 years (in the 10 year period)
- do not meet the criteria in the guidelines.
You can get help to understand and apply for Farm Household Allowance. Specially trained staff are available on the Farmer Assistance Line at Services Australia, call 132 316 between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.
You can also talk to a Rural Financial Counsellor. It is a free service. They will evaluate your situation and let you know what you can apply for. Find your local service provider by visiting the Rural Financial Counselling Service locations webpage.
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Payments and support
You can get Farm Household Allowance for up to 4 years (1,460 days) at any time between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2024. You can apply for your second tranche of four years from 1 July 2024.
FHA gives you time to improve your circumstances. You do not have to receive all payments in one go. You can defer your payments for future hardship.
You will also get ongoing support from your own:
- Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO)
- Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC).
Applications and payments are managed by Services Australia.
Call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.