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Budget 2004: New focus for Farm Help.

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DAFF04/114WT - 11 May 2004

New focus for Farm Help

The Australian Government has provided $134.9 million in the 2004-05 Budget to continue Farm Help - Supporting Families Through Change over the next four years with a renewed focus.

Australian Agriculture Minister Warren Truss said the new focus would be on supporting low-income farmers, who can no longer borrow against their assets, make changes to their situation.

"The program will continue to provide assistance to farm families in severe financial difficulty while they assess their future in farming," Mr Truss said.

There will, however, be an increased emphasis on using strategic information, analysis and professional advice to support decision-making.

"The farm family will work through a 'Pathways Plan' to achieve long-term improvement in their situation. Income support is available to help reduce the financial pressures on families.

"Farmers will be required to approach the program as an opportunity to gain information and skills that will support a better outcome for them in the long term.

"In the past, relatively few farmers have made full use of the programme's decision-making support measures, which meant they have often ended up locked into a cycle of dependency.

"Farmers qualifying for assistance will participate in quarterly reviews of their circumstances and progress against their activity plans to ensure they are using the programme effectively and making positive changes to their situation."

The programme provides up to 12 months' income support at the Newstart rate to allow farmers time to decide about their future in farming, as well as support for professional advice or training and a re-establishment grant if the family sells the farm.

"For farm families choosing to leave farming, the maximum re-establishment grant will be increased from $45,000 to $50,000," Mr Truss said.

Mr Truss said the Government would review the program in 2005-06 and its future beyond 2007 would be considered in the context of the 2006-07 Budget.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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