Federal budget 2017: What it means for farmers across Australia
submitted 3 years ago by dbalachandran

The government is sticking with its belief that controversial low-interest loans are the best form of assistance for struggling farmers.

While the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) income support payment program will continue indefinitely, producers will still only be able to claim that payment for a total of three years.

But those farmers will have new access to concessional loans once they max out their FHA payments, the budget papers reveal.

New criteria will mean farmers coming off FHA won't have to live within an eligible drought-affected area to apply for a loan.

However, financial criteria around 'viability' will still apply.

A popular measure from 2015, which allowed farmers to write off up to $20,000 in farm machinery or other assets, will continue for another year.

But the government is finally abandoning a range of less popular, so-called 'zombie measures', from the controversial 2014 budget which have never passed the parliament.

Among those, an attempt to force research and development corporations, like the FRDC [Fisheries Research & Development Corporation] and GRDC [The Grains Research & Development Corporation] to pay their own membership fees for international commodities organisations.

The Commonwealth will keep paying those fees, at a cost of $1.8 million per year.

And finally, before anyone tells you that a range of new commodity levies means there are new taxes on bananas, avocados, seed cotton, tea tree oil or thoroughbreds, let's get one thing straight: Those levies are not consumer or consumption taxes.

Instead, they're set up in agreement with the industries involved to cover the cost of research, development, and biosecurity issues.

Those funds will be added to Commonwealth contributions.

The news is even better for egg producers: the levy on laying chooks is being phased out, now that the industry has repaid the cost of dealing with a previous avian influenza outbreak.

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