M. Extension of retirement assistance for farmers scheme (RAFS)
Current program extended by nine months
RAFS was originally introduced as a three-year window of opportunity for low income, pension age farmers who are in hardship to give the farm to their descendants and get immediate access to the age pension. The "closing date" for the Scheme was originally 14 September 2000. The Government has extended the operation of the scheme by nine months until June 30 2001. There are no changes to any aspect of the eligibility criteria.
The Scheme encourages low income, pension-age farmers to retire from farming by transferring their farming enterprises to a younger generation without affecting their eligibility for the age pension. It is targeted at those farmers and farm families who are living in hardship because their farms, which are only capable of supporting one family, are being required to provide a living for two or more families.
The primary eligibility conditions established for RAFS are:
- the farmer or their partner must be of age pension or service pension age;
- the value of the farm to be gifted, net of farm debt, can be up to $500,000;
- the farmer must have owned the farm for at least 15 years or been involved in farming for at least 20 years;
- the farmer's average income in the preceding three years must have been no more than the maximum pension rate; and
- the younger generation must have had an active involvement in the farm over the three years prior to transfer.