Farm Household Allowance
Help for farmers and their families experiencing financial hardship.
- be a farmer who contributes a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise, or be the partner of a farmer who does
- meet an income and assets test, and
- comply with mutual obligation requirements
If you get Farm Household Allowance, you need to send us your tax returns by 30 April 2017. Read more about farm business income reconciliation.
Eligibility & payment rates
To be eligible for Farm Household Allowance you need to:
- be a farmer or the partner of a farmer
- be aged 16 years or over
- contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to a farm enterprise in Australia, or be the partner of a farmer who does
- meet an income and assets test
- meet residence requirements
- have regular contact with a Farm Household Case Officer
- agree to and comply with mutual obligations requirements, and
- have received less than 3 years of Farm Household Allowance
The farm enterprise must have significant commercial purpose or character. It will be assessed based on:
- the purpose of your farm activity and the prospect for profit
- the consistency of your farm activity
- whether your farm activity is planned, organised and operated like a business, and
- the size, scale and permanency of your farm activity
To be eligible for Farm Household Allowance (FHA), you will need to complete a Farm Financial Assessment with the help of a Prescribed Adviser. A Farm Financial Assessment is an assessment of your, your partner’s and your farm’s financial position.
You must also be willing to enter into a Financial Improvement Agreement and undertake agreed activities to help you improve your financial circumstances.
You will be supported by a Farm Household Case Officer who will work with you to develop your Financial Improvement Agreement. They can help you with anything that may be impacting on your participation in the agreed activities. Your Farm Household Case Officer will meet with you approximately every 3 months to discuss your progress. These meetings are either face to face or over the phone, depending on your circumstances.
The amount of income and assets you have determines the payment you will get.
Your income must be below the cut off point for Newstart Allowance.
If you earn off-farm income, in some specific circumstances, we will deduct that income when calculating your entitlement under the income test. A maximum of $80,000 off-farm income can be offset against interest repayments. This can only happen if, among other things, the income for you or your partner from your farming business for the relevant financial year is less than zero. You must prove that the loan contract you are paying interest on cannot be renegotiated.
Read more about the off-farm income offset in the Farm Household Allowance Guidelines on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
As with Farm Household Allowance in general, it's important that you don’t self-assess your eligibility. If you think the off-farm income offset may apply to you, submit a claim to test your eligibility or contact the Farmer Assistance Hotline.
There are 2 parts to the assets test.
Part 1 – Non-farm and liquid assets test
The first part assesses the non-farm and liquid assets you, your family and your business own.
We classify water assets as non farm assets.
Liquid assets include cash immediately available in your personal and business bank accounts, term deposits, shares and other financial accounts. Your family home and up to 2 hectares of land surrounding it, if listed on a single title and used for domestic purposes, can be excluded from this assets test.
If the total exceeds your maximum reserve you may be subject to a Liquid Assets Waiting Period. Your maximum reserve differs depending on your circumstances.
Part 2 – Total net assets
The second part assesses your family’s total farm net assets. The total must be below $2.55 million.
Water assets form part of the income and assets test for Farm Household Allowance. This may mean farmers with high value water assets can claim this payment.
If you or your partner own water assets, you need to tell us about them when you submit your claim. You need to tell us:
- the type of water asset you hold
- the way the water asset is used, such as 70% watering crops, 20% environmental management, 10% domestic use
- the volume of each type of water asset by kilolitre, megalitre, or gigalitre
- the estimated market value per unit for each type of water asset, for example, the dollar amount per megalitre
You also need to give us evidence that:
- proves your ownership of the water assets, such as your water licences, title or account statements, and
- supports your estimate of the value of your water assets, such as advice from a water authority about the average sale prices in your area, a bank valuation for a mortgaged asset, or something similar
If you need help estimating the value of your water assets, you can contact:
- your state or territory water authority
- an accountant or financial adviser
If your water asset is held as security for a loan, we will consider this when doing our assessment. Make sure you provide evidence of the loan.
To be eligible for Farm Household Allowance, you must:
- be an Australian resident
- continue to be an Australian resident for as long as you get this payment and
- be physically present in Australia on the day you submit your claim
Newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to wait for a period of time before receiving your first Farm Household Allowance payment.
Any waiting period you may serve is not counted when calculating your 3 years of entitlement to Farm Household Allowance.
We will tell you if a waiting period will apply to your claim.
Read more about waiting periods.
Once you have read about eligibility, the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- choose your claiming option
- provide supporting documents
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your payment
Income you earn can affect your payment. We need to know what you have earned each fortnight so you are paid the right amount.
How to report
You can report your off-farm income by:
- using your Centrelink online account through myGov – if you do not have an account, it’s easy to register
- calling the income reporting line on your reporting day
- calling the Farmer Assistance Hotline between 8 am to 8 pm on your regular reporting day
To update your business income estimate call the Farmer Assistance Hotline or visit a service centre.
Read more about income reporting
At the end of each financial year we reconcile your business income.
You may be able to claim an Activity Supplement of up to $3,000 to help pay for some of the activities in your Financial Improvement Agreement.
If you’re in your third year of receiving Household Allowance, you may be able to claim an additional $1,000. This additional Activity Supplement is to help pay for high value activities that will help you to achieve financial independence by the end of your 3 years of receiving Farm Household Allowance.
Talk to your Farm Household Case Officer about what activities are eligible for the Activity Supplement.
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- you become partnered or separate from your partner, or
- your work load changes
If you do not tell us about changes in your circumstances within 14 days you may be overpaid and you may be left owing money.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud, and a recovery fee may be imposed.
There are rules about when your Farm Household Allowance can be paid when you travel outside Australia.
You can get Farm Household Allowance for a maximum of 3 years. These 3 years do not have to be in 1 block, so you can come off the payment and return to it later. Once you use up your 3 years your payment will stop.
Your Farm Household Case Officer will meet with you to help you prepare. You may be able to get an additional Activity Supplement in your third year. Your Case Officer can help you with this and put you in touch with other support services.
You can also:
You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.
Self service computers and printers are available in your local service centre to help you identify employment opportunities and make contact with service providers who may assist you in your search for work.
A free, confidential service that provides education and information on financial and lifestyle issues to all Australians.
Our social workers can help you during difficult times by providing counselling, support and information.
Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.
Read more about using self service.
Select the options that describe your circumstances, then explore a list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.