What is agistment?
Agistment is the holding and caring of livestock which are not owned by you in exchange for payment.
Agistment income is considered to be off-farm income.
It is not considered primary production income for the purpose of social security payments.
It is considered in the same category as lease or rental income from a farm asset.
Generally, DHS will assess each source of income separately.
Don’t self assess! Call DHS on the Farmer Assistance Hotline: 132 316
The Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS) processes FHA applications and can help you to assess your situation.
Farm Household Allowance (FHA) assists eligible farmers and their partners who are experiencing financial hardship to improve their long-term financial situation. FHA provides up to three years of income support, which is designed to help recipients meet basic household needs and is an opportunity to take steps to improve their circumstances.
FHA is paid fortnightly at a rate equivalent to Newstart Allowance (or Youth Allowance for those under 22 years of age).
- be a farmer* or the partner of a farmer
- meet an income and assets test
- meet residence requirements
- be willing to undertake a Farm Financial Assessment
- be willing to enter into a Financial Improvement Agreement to help you improve your financial circumstances.
*If you are the farmer you must contribute a significant part of your labour and capital to the farm enterprise based on specific criteria.
The amount of income you earn will determine your rate of FHA. To receive FHA, your income must be below the allowable
income limits set for Newstart Allowance.
Assessment of agistment income
Details of agistment income and related information must be provided when completing your claim for FHA. You will be asked to supply documents for your claim dependant on your individual circumstances.
Many of the expenses incurred in running your farm business may also be incurred in running your agistment business.
Agistment expenses might include (but are not limited to):
- water costs (i.e. cartage, cleaning of dams)
- interest repayments
- depreciation on plant and equipment
- staff costs.
It is important that you ensure that all the expenses are correctly apportioned against each income stream (i.e. your primary production income stream and your agistment income stream).
Did you know?
Other off-farm income sources may also be treated in this way. It is important that expenses are correctly apportioned against income streams such as leased land or rental income from a farm asset.
Dennis has a cropping business. He also has an agistment business whereby he agists sheep on half of his property. He uses his tractor to improve his land for both cropping and for his agistment business. Water is required for all parts of his property too.
When preparing his profit and loss statements at the end of each year it is important that the cost of the tractor and water is allocated to the correct income stream.
Dennis estimates that he uses the tractor for the crops 60% of the time and 40% for the agistment. He estimates that he uses 80% of the water for his crops and 20% for the agisted sheep.
By apportioning the expenses correctly to each income stream, Dennis may reduce his total assessable income.
The off-farm income offset
If you earn agistment income, in some circumstances, you may be eligible for the off-farm income offset.
The off-farm income offset recognises that farmers experiencing financial hardship are often forced to rely on off-farm income to support the farm enterprise rather than using that income for their own support.
In these circumstances, the interest component of farm losses can be used to offset an individual’s off-farm income where they meet the criteria.
See the Off-farm Income Offset Factsheet for more information.
Need more information or help?
- Call the Farmer Assistance Hotline: 132 316
- Speak to your Financial Advisor or Rural Financial Counsellor
- FHA Guidelines are available at