Farm Household Allowance

On 27 September 2019, the Australian Government announced a radical simplification of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) application process and key policy settings.

Minister McKenzie media release has more details on each element.

Legislation came into effect on 16 December 2019 that:

  • provides a lump sum Relief Payment for FHA recipients who have used their 4 years of payment by 30 June 2020
  • allows farm business losses of up to $100, 000 to offset income from other sources, and
    • assesses together businesses or activities that are directly related to each other (such as contract harvesting, contract fencing, processing and/ or value adding to the person’s produce, and agistment)
  • changes the time limit on FHA payments to 4 in every 10 years from 1 July 2024.

For example, a farm enterprise which runs sheep is running at a current year loss of $90,000. Some paddocks generate $30,000 income from agistment. This activity is a directly-related business. When they are considered together the farm business is running at a combined loss of $60,000.

If the farmer also has $50,000 income from a job in town, the $60,000 loss offsets the other income. The farmer will be assessed as having zero income for FHA, because the net position is still a $10,000 loss.

From 16 December 2019 people whose time on the FHA has expired will receive a lump sum Relief Payment that is the equivalent of six months on the payment. The Relief Payment will be made automatically by the Department of Human Services, no one has to apply.

Couples will receive of $13,000 ($6,500 each) and single people will receive $7,500, to help them meet household costs.

Those whose time on the support payment will end between 16 December and 30 June 2020 will be paid as soon as they finish their first four years of fortnightly FHA payments.

Legislation has also been passed that will make further changes, but these will not take effect until the middle of 2020. They include changes to 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
  • income test to remove the fluctuations in fortnightly payments. Income will still be assessed and those over the threshold will not be paid (which is the same as now), but those under the threshold will automatically receive the maximum amount of payment (rather than a reduced rate)
  • amount of Activity Supplement – it increased from $4,000 to $10,000 and can be used for travel and accommodation to undertake training
  • definition of a prescribed adviser who completes the Farm Financial Assessment. The definition has been expanded to include farm consultants and Rural Financial Counsellors.

The Australian Government’s announcements are in response to the independent review of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) that was undertaken in the second half of 2018.

Read the outcome of the Review of the Farm Household Allowance.

Support for eligible farmers and their partners. Helping you through hardship, including drought.
See all drought and rural support we provide.

Eligibility

Check if you are eligible for Farm Household Allowance.

You:

  • 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 business.

Your farm:

  • is in Australia
  • has a significant commercial purpose or character.

You must:

  • contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm business
  • 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
  • do not meet the criteria in the guidelines.

Read the detail in the FHA guidelines.

Need help?

You can get help to understand and apply for Farm Household Allowance. Specially trained staff are available on the Farmer Assistance Line at the Department of Human Services, between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

You can also talk to one of our Rural Financial Counsellors​. It is a free service. They will evaluate your situation and let you know what you can apply for.

Call 1800 686 175.

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 receive:

  • a fortnightly payment
  • allowances to help you with expenses like rent, phone and medicine
  • a financial assessment of your farm business (worth up to $1,500)
  • a Health Care Card, to help reduce health care costs
  • funding to help you develop skills, access training and pay for professional advice (worth up $4,000).

Fortnightly payments vary depending on your situation. They are based on social security allowances. Your payment amount will be based on the information you provide.

You will also get ongoing support from your own:

  • ​Farm Household Case Officer (FHCO)
  • Rural Financial Counsellor (RFC).

Apply

Applications and payments are managed by the Department of Human Services.

Call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 132 316.

Learn more about Farm Household Allowance.

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Last reviewed: 12 February 2020
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