A comprehensive guide to available drought assistance options

Farmers managing drought may be able to access support for needs ranging from livestock fodder, everyday living expenses and access to financial and health services. The below list details the help available at a Federal and State Government level and that via charities and other private initiatives.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) strongly urges farmers not to ‘self-assess’ and to check their eligibility by contacting the below relevant agencies or by speaking with a rural financial counsellor.


Farm Household Allowance (FHA)
Provides eligible farmers and their families experiencing financial hardships support through planning and training for long-term financial improvements as well as income support for up to four years.

The FHA program provides:
– A fortnightly payment and supplementary allowances of up to $590 (such as rent assistance, phone and pharmaceutical allowances and Health Care card).
– Individual case support with a Farm Household Case Officer and Rural Financial Counsellor
– A financial assessment of the farm enterprise up to $1,500.
– A $4,000 activity supplement that gives farmers and opportunity to develop skills, access training and pay for advice to better manage their business.

On Sunday 5 August, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced changes to the FHA. Eligible farmers will soon be able to receive two lump sum payments worth up to $12,000 for households and single households will get $7,200. The asset threshold has also increased to $5 million to allow more farmers to access support.

The first payment will be made on September 1 2018 and the second will be made on March 1 2019.

Assess your FHA eligibility: here
For more information call the Farmer Assistance Hotline on 13 23 16.
For FHA guidelines click here.
To apply for the FHA click here.

Farm Management Deposits (FMD)
This scheme assists primary producers to deal more effectively with fluctuations in cash flows by helping to manage financial risk and meet business costs in low-income years by building up cash reserves.
Eligible primary producers can set aside pre-tax income from primary production in years of high income, which can be drawn upon in future years when it is needed.

Managing Farm Risk Program
Provides rebates up to $2,500 for advice and assessments to help farmers prepare and apply for a new insurance policy that assists with the management of drought and other production and market risks.

Rural Financial Counselling Service
Provides primary producers and small rural businesses that are experiencing hardship with free and impartial financial information, options, decision-making support and referral services. For more information call 1800 686 175.

Drought Concessional Loans scheme
Is designed to assist farming operations that have experienced significant financial impact as a result of the drought.
Eligible businesses must have been operating for at least three years and have good long-term prospects of returning to profitable trading with sustainable debt levels. For more information see Rural Finance or call 1800 260 425.


Rural Aid
Is a non-for profit organisation that provides assistance and relief to those in rural areas struggling with the adverse effects of nature including, but not limited to, drought, floods and other natural disasters in Australia. Rural aid is the holding organisation for campaigns such as Buy a Bale and Farm Rescue.
To register as a farmer in need of these services click here or to donate click here.

Thirsty Cow
Is a drought and bush fire appeal which provides financial support to affected farmers as well as fodder delivery, fencing, vehicle maintenance and animal care services. Farmers can self-nominate by emailing info@thirstycow.org.au or call 1300 45 11 88

The Salvation Army
Provides drought affected farmers in remote locations with grocery vouches and cash grants and fund rural chaplains.
Farmers can reach out for support by clicking here.

Farmers can access mental health support from:
Lifeline 131 11 14 and
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

New South Wales:

Emergency Drought Relief Package
Aims to help farmers manage the effects of the current drought and includes:
– Drought Transport Subsidies (for more call 1800 678 593 or visit NSW RAA)
– Waivers on government fees and charges
o Local Land and services rates (or call 1300 795 299)
o Fixed water charges in rural and regional areas (or call 1300 662 077)
o Class One agricultural vehicle registration costs (or call 13 77 88)
o Farm Innovation Fund interest charges (or call 1800 678 593)


Is a disaster Relief Fund provides grocery vouchers and household expense vouchers.
Farmers can self-nominate by clicking here.
For more information call (02) 8338 1595

Need for Feed
Is an organisation run by the Lions Club and works as a major supplier of emergency fodder and transport.
Farmers wanting to apply for assistance click here.
For more information call 0459 444 111 or email lionsneedforfeed@yahoo.com.au


Victorian Government Concessions
Are available to low income Victorians experiencing difficulty in paying their council rates, water, gas and electricity bills. Discounts are available on essential services to ease the financial burden for low income Victorians who are experiencing unexpected financial hardships.

Agriculture Victoria
Provide many services to assist farmers during adverse seasonal conditions including personal, technical and financial support.
Farm extension Services On-farm focused extension services delivered by Agriculture Victoria’s provide a signpost information and advisory services to spot farm businesses manage dry seasonal conditions.
Call Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or visit their farmer workshop page.

Victorian Better Health Channel
Provides health and medical information that is quality assured, reliable, up to date, easy to understand, regularly reviewed and locally relevant.


Drought Assistance for primary producers
The Queensland Government is providing drought assistance through multiple programs to farmers who are affected by drought. These programs include:
Drought Relief Assistance Scheme (DRAS) freight subsidies and water infrastructure rebate
Drought Relief from Electricity Charges Scheme (DRECS)
Land rent rebates
Water license waivers
Transport-related drought assistance measures


Drought Angels
Provides stock feed, pre-paid visa cards for farmers, local produce vouchers (within the affected community) and face-to-face or phone services to drought-affected farmers.
To apply and for more information click here or email: droughtangels@gmail.com.

CWA of Queensland
Is assisting farming households with grants of up to $5000 for household expenses.
For more information call 07 3026 1220 or email secretary@qcwa.org.au

South Australia:

The South Australian Government Primary Industries and Regions provide South Australian specific information on federal drought support programs as well as farm management decision tools.

**Please note, this information should not be viewed as an endorsement, by the National Farmers’ Federation, of the organisations listed above.

Andrea Martinello

Andrea Martinello

Andrea is the Community & Engagement Officer at the National Farmers' Federation.

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