Dairy sup­port changes

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Ge­off Adams

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is mak­ing changes to the Farm House­hold Al­lowance, fol­low­ing a se­ries of meet­ings in which farm­ers com­plained about its de­liv­ery.

Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce said the scheme would be al­tered to re­move some as­sets that were re­quired for farm op­er­a­tion but were clas­si­fied as non-farm as­sets.

The Act will also be amended to re­move the re­quire­ment for a wait­ing pe­riod be­fore farm­ers can re­ceive a pay­ment.

At the round­table meet­ing held at Congupna last year and chaired by Sen­a­tor Brid­get McKen­zie, farm­ers com­plained of de­lays in get­ting their ap­pli­ca­tions dealt with, while oth­ers com­plained doc­u­ments had been lost or scanned in­cor­rectly.

Some of the dairy sup­port pack­ages of­fered by the Com­mon­wealth were in­tro­duced fol­low­ing the milk price cut by the two ma­jor pro­ces­sors, Mur­ray Goul­burn and Fon­terra, last year.

Mr Joyce said the amend­ments ad­dressed the is­sue of as­sets, nec­es­sary for the op­er­a­tion of the farm en­ter­prise, fall­ing within the def­i­ni­tion of non-farm as­set, which had stricter as­sets lim­its and could pre­vent some right­fully el­i­gi­ble farm busi­nesses from re­ceiv­ing pay­ment.

Sen­a­tor McKen­zie said she heard first-hand from dairy farm­ers in the Kiewa Val­ley, Shep­par­ton, Cam­per­down and Gipp­s­land about the sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems they en­coun­tered in ac­cess­ing as­sis­tance quickly.

‘‘They told me about un­sat­is­fac­tory ser­vice from DHS and Cen­tre­link with staff un­able to pro­vide ac­cu­rate or con­sis­tent in­for­ma­tion about farm house­hold as­sis­tance re­sult­ing in ex­ces­sive wait­ing times for ben­e­fits.’’

She said work was con­tin­u­ing to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of the Farm House­hold Al­lowance ap­pli­ca­tion process by the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices.

More than 7000 claims have been granted na­tion­ally since the Farm House­hold Al­lowance was in­tro­duced.

Act­ing on con­cerns . . . Sen­a­tor Brid­get McKen­zie speak­ing at the Congupna meet­ing that heard some of the com­plaints about the de­liv­ery of as­sis­tance to dairy farm­ers fol­low­ing last year’s milk price cuts.

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