Farmers urged to act quickly to access extra assistance
DROUGHT affected farmers who are yet to apply for Farm Household Allowance are being urged to act quickly to ensure they don't miss out.
Thousands of dollars in additional payments are available under the scheme.
As part of its commitment to helping farmers through this drought, the federal government introduced two supplementary FHA payments this financial year, totalling up to $12,000.
To be eligible for the first payment of up to $6000 for couples or $3600 for singles, farmers must lodge their FHA application form by December 1.
Human Services and Digital Transformation Minister Michael Keenan said the payments were additional to the regular fortnightly benefits farmers receive under the FHA scheme and the money is available as a lump sum.
"This is extra money that was made available by the Coalition to help farmers keep their heads above water during what we recognise are extremely difficult times,” Mr Keenan said.
"We don't want anyone to miss out, which is why we urging farmers who haven't yet applied for FHA to do so before the December 1 deadline.”
More than $12.7 million has already been distributed through the first round of supplementary payments and those who miss the deadline will still be eligible for the second payment which will be distributed in March next year.
Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud urged farmers to apply.
"Your local Rural Financial Counsellor will help you fill out the application form for free,” Mr Littleproud said.
"They're the angels of this drought.
"We are also investing an extra $5 million into the free Rural Financial Counselling Service to help drought-affected farmers apply for FHA and the form has been shortened and simplified.”
Nearly 5000 FHA claims have been lodged so far this financial year, compared to just 1250 the previous year.
The increase reflects the significant changes the government has made to the FHA scheme to make it easier for farmers to access assistance.
Those changes include increasing the time frame that people can receive FHA from three to four years and doubling the farm asset threshold.
An expert panel is also currently reviewing FHA to see whether further improvements can be made.
The panel will make its recommendations to Government in the first half of 2019.
Further information about FHA and how to apply can be found online.