Farmers – morale and money

As detailed in my last post there  has been some discussion about providing state assistance to farmers suffering from drought – Droughts and farmers versus beneficiaries.

Despite what some people seem to think it doesn’t sound like farmers are flocking to WINZ offices. In a drought in 2009 20 Hawke’s Bay farmers received payments.

Stuff reports:

Drought declaration ‘a show of support’

Declaring drought is more about morale than the money, according to a Hawke’s Bay farmer.

“It makes us feel better really, that people are recognising that we’ve a problem,” Takapau farmer David Hunt said.

The declaration was more a show of support for farmers, said Mr Hunt, who chairs the dairy branch of Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay.

“Most farmers are pretty good at helping themselves but if you can’t buy feed because your cashflow won’t allow or you can’t find it, it’s good to know you can source outside expertise to find it.”

What assistance can farmers get?

Government assistance includes the unemployment benefit, emergency benefit, and special needs grants to meet immediate needs and Rural Assistance Payments (at same rate as the unemployment benefit, after an asset and income test).

Help from Work and Income includes childcare assistance, family tax credits and accommodation supplements and from Working for Families, and tax relief, such as filing extensions and options to pay tax in instalments.

Inland Revenue assistance includes advice and support, such as workshops, meetings, technical and financial advice.

Some of that is available to everyone in similar income circumstances.

Banks are also offering assistance:

…would also be putting people in touch with ANZ, ASB and BNZ banks, which had all announced drought assistance packages to those affected.

BNZ was offering immediate overdraft approval of up to $100,000 at a special 6 per cent interest rate to affected farmers, alongside immediate access to emergency family funding of up to $10,000.

Loans to banks have to be paid back.

How much state assistance will there be?

The tight criteria meant few farmers were eligible for the payment. In 2009, 20 Hawke’s Bay farmers received the payment.

Mr Barham expected a similar number would receive the payment this year as the region came off the back of the driest six-month spell since 1950.

It doesn’t sound like there will be a flood of state handouts.