Changes to Farm Household Allowance make it more accessible

Changes to eligibility criteria for off-farm asset limits welcomed

Agribusiness
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Farm Household Allowance will shortly be more accessible to more primary producers thanks to changes recently passed by the federal government.

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Rural financial counsellor Rachel Bock is welcoming the changes to asset limits that are giving more primary producers access to Farm Household Allowance.

Rural financial counsellor Rachel Bock is welcoming the changes to asset limits that are giving more primary producers access to Farm Household Allowance.

Farm Household Allowance will shortly be more accessible to more primary producers thanks to changes recently passed by the federal government.

Rural financial counsellor Rachel Bock said the changes to key eligibility criteria for off-farm asset limits were a massive improvement for people who were being penalised for having assets that in many cases they weren't benefiting from.

"An off-farm asset limit of $387,000 for couples was holding many back from accessing the allowance of $13,000 a year," she said. "We'd urge producers who have been unable to access the allowance to now take another look at their eligibility."

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Ms Bock, who is with the Rural Financial Counselling Service North Queensland, said that after a lengthy review process a single asset threshold of $5.5 million net assets now exists.

"Older farmers who are over the age pension age, who couldn't access FHA in the past due to the value of their superannuation, should also test their eligibility," she said.

In addition, the activity supplement, which funds training, upskilling and professional advice has been increased from $4000 to $10,000.

Ms Bock said she had seen clients use it for professional advice of all sorts - pasture assessment, succession planning, property valuations and the like, as well as things like pregnancy testing courses.

The supplement will now extend to cover travel and accommodation incurred in undertaking the training, which Ms Bock said had held a lot of people back in the past.

"FHA isn't a huge amount of money but it gives people breathing space - they can get some bills paid and succession planning done properly without so much stress hanging over them," she said. "I've seen quite a bit of property change hands, in the middle of drought, in a considered, professional manner thanks to FHA."

She also said it was coincidental that the changes were taking place amid financial measures being implemented to counteract the effect of coronavirus lockdowns.

The changes come into effect on June 11 but producers can apply now in readiness for new criteria, and rural financial counsellors can assist with applications.

Read more: Run on rural financial counsellors

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