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September 2008Climate Change Adjustment Program
 

September 2008Climate Change Adjustment Program

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    September 2008Climate Change Adjustment Program September 2008Climate Change Adjustment Program Document Transcript

    • September 2008 Climate Change Adjustment Program F a r m B u s i n e s s A n a l y s i s a n d F i n a n c i a l A s s e s s m e n t I n f o r m a t i o n f o r a d v i s e r s What is the Climate Change Adjustment Program? The Climate Change Adjustment Program (CCAP) is a component of the Australia’s Farming Future (AFF) initiative, which is one of the Australian Government’s key initiatives for primary industries. AFF provides $130 million over four years to help primary producers adapt and respond to climate change. The CCAP will assist primary producers in financial difficulty who are, or are likely to be, adversely impacted by climate change, including those experiencing hardship caused by drought, to obtain professional advice, adjustment training and re-establishment assistance. The CCAP will assist farm families to adjust their businesses to manage the impacts of climate change and to set goals and take action to improve their long term financial circumstances, either within or outside of agriculture. The program provides assistance to: • Undertake advice and adjustment training of up to $5 500 (GST inclusive) • Undertake a farm business analysis and financial assessment to provide farmers with a clear understanding of their financial situation and future prospects, in the context of the future climatic (and financial) environment • Develop a Climate Change Action Plan which outlines options for on-farm climate change adaptation strategies and practices through access to professional advice, information and training. How do farmers obtain professional advice under the Climate Change Adjustment Program? Under the CCAP, farmers can receive a grant of up to $5 500 per farm family for specialised professional advice and training across a range of disciplines to assist them to adjust to the impacts of climate change. Professional advice is available on issues directly related to climate change management such as financial assessment, climate change risk management, climate forecasting, drought recovery, or indirectly related to climate change management, such as financial planning, business management, succession planning, legal, family or personal matters. Farmers are required to arrange and attend an initial advice session with a prescribed adviser, which will include a professional assessment of their farm enterprise’s financial situation, and completing the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment form provided by Centrelink.
    • 2. Who can provide advice for the farmer’s business analysis and financial assessment session? For the farm business analysis and financial assessment session, advice must be from a prescribed adviser. A prescribed adviser is a person who has relevant financial qualifications and is a member of a professional association who normally provides financial advice, such as financial advisers/planners. Where there is a shortage of advisers who meet these requirements, Centrelink has the discretion to allow the use of another suitable person. Other suitably qualified people can include a person who has experience in financial matters because of his or her occupation (whether or not he or she normally provides advice) and is a member of a relevant professional association. Occupations that give a person experience in financial matters can include bank managers, stock and station agents, tax agents, and accountants. However, advisers should contact Centrelink before they book a session to ensure that their services will be covered by the grant. Is there a list of advisers for the CCAP? The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry does not endorse or maintain a list of prescribed advisers who can provide their services for CCAP recipients. Advisers who meet the definition as outlined above may be able to provide their services under the CCAP. What is the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment? The Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment is a compulsory assessment of the farmer’s financial situation. The adviser completes the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment form, including a financial assessment template, in consultation with the farmer during the assessment session. This will be paid for under the assessment session, which does not cover the cost of other services an adviser may offer to provide in conjunction with the assessment session. Assessing the farmer’s financial situation is important because it provides the farmer with an independent appraisal of their financial position and helps them to decide what is best for the future of the farming business and their family. The Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment must be completed before any further advice or training assistance can be approved. The assessment session should cost the farmer no more than $1 500 (GST inclusive), and it is recommended that the farmer receive a quote before booking the session. The cost of services other than those described above that are provided in conjunction with the assessment session will not be reimbursed. What is the financial assessment? Farmers wishing to access the CCAP Advice and Training Grant must initially meet the income and assets test administered by Centrelink. In addition, farmers must also undertake a financial assessment as part of the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assesment, to determine the level of assistance they require to develop their Climate Change Action Plan under the CCAP. Prescribed advisers will undertake this assessment using an automated Financial Assessment template. To maintain consistency with social security policy, that persons seeking financial assistance from the taxpayer must first draw on their own reserves, the total net assets held by the applicant/family unit (including farm assets) is capped at $1.5 million. The financial assessment is based on four tests that are designed to assess the current financial status of a farmer and farm business, and takes into account the elements of a financially sound business, including: • an ability to earn profits or surpluses;
    • 3. • an ability to generate sufficient cash flow (as profitability without liquidity is of limited benefit to a business); • sufficient liquidity to meet short term cash flow obligations; and • a finance structure whereby the entity is not in debt more than the value of the property (over leveraged), and has a sufficient level of assets to operate its business. The four tests have been chosen to cover each of the elements outlined above. Tests 1 and 2 are aligned with the Centrelink income and non-farm assets test that determines initial access to the program. While the farmer must have already passed these tests, their inclusion in the financial assessment will enable a complete assessment of the farmer’s current financial situation to be provided to the farmer by the Prescribed Adviser. The four tests are: • Test 1 – Farm business income and non-farm income • Test 2 – Non-farm assets • Test 3 – Liquidity • Test 4 – Debt to equity position. In addition to the four tests, farmers will need to pass the total net assets cap of $1.5 million. Through the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment, famers will be assessed against the eligibility categories outlined below: Group 1 includes farmers who pass the farm business and non-farm income and assets tests as well as either the liquidity or debt to equity tests. These farmers will be deemed to be in severe financial difficulty, and will be required to develop a Climate Change Action Plan with the assistance of a rural financial counsellor. They will also need to seek specific professional advice and training to assist them in achieving their objectives, and must attend mandatory quarterly review sessions with a rural financial counsellor. Alternatively, these farmers may consider leaving farming and access the CCAP Re-establishment Grant or the Exceptional Circumstances Exit Grant. Group 2 includes farmers who pass the farm business and non-farm income and assets tests but fail either the liquidity or debt to equity tests. These farmers will be deemed to be financially viable, but have been impacted by the effects of climate change. These farmers will be required to develop a self-managed Climate Change Action Plan with the assistance of Centrelink. They will also need to seek specific professional advice and training to assist them in achieving their objectives. They will not generally receive assistance from a rural financial counsellor. Group 3 includes farmers whose net assets are deemed to be in excess of the allowable cap of $1.5 million are ineligible for assistance under the Climate Change Adjustment Program. What is the Financial Assessment template? The Financial Assessment template is an automated tool to assist the adviser to determine the level of assistance required by the farmer to develop their Climate Change Action Plan, and must be completed as part of the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment form. The template consists of financial tables to gather financial information on the farming business including cash flow, historical income, operating costs and debt information, assets and liabilities. The adviser will manually enter information into these tables from information provided by the farmer. The information from these tables will automatically feed into an eligibility assessment tool, which calculates the farmer’s eligibility category (as outlined above) based on current Centrelink income and assets levels, as well as liquidity and debt to equity ratios.
    • 4. The Financial Assessment template can be accessed via the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website at: www.daff.gov.au/climatechange/australias-farming-future/climate-change-adjustment-assistance. Alternatively, advisers can request the template on CD by phoning 1800 638 746. The website and CD also contain a tutorial which provides background information on the model used for the financial assessment and a demonstration on completing the template. The template provided on the website and CD will be updated in line with changes to the Centrelink income and asset test rates (March, July and September). What information should the farmer provide for the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment session? The farmer should provide the following information: • Copies of the last 3-5 years tax returns and financial statements (including profit and loss statements and balance sheets) • Details of current income, including Centrelink payments, income from off-farm employment or rental income • Any superannuation payments, annuities and other income • Details of assets and investments, including bank and building society accounts, Farm Management Deposits, shares or managed investments • Details of any debts • Details of planned expenditure (eg. Children’s education, house maintenance). What happens with the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment? The Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment is an important foundation for the Climate Change Action Plan the farmer will work through during their time on the program. The Plan will include goals the farmer has identified to improve their situation as well as advice and training activities to deal with the short and long-term effects of climate change. The outcome of the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment will determine whether the farmer will develop an action plan with a rural financial counsellor or self-manage their action plan with assistance from Centrelink. The Action Plan will also outline the agreed additional advice and/or adjustment training activities the farmer requires to assist them adjust to the impacts of climate change. Who can provide additional advice sessions? For additional advice sessions across a range of disciplines to assist farmers to adjust to the impacts of climate change, advice must be obtained from a qualified person. A qualified person is a person who is a member of a professional association whose members normally provide advice of a kind that is relevant to the farmer’s circumstances. What types of additional advice can be provided? Farmers are required to obtain professional advice to assist them deal with the impacts of climate change and improve their financial and/or environmental performance, or to assist them secure alternative sources of income or acquire skills to enable them to seek employment if they choose to exit farming. Advice can be either directly or indirectly related to climate change management. Advice directly related to climate change management includes:
    • 5. • Climate change impacts and risk information • Climate risk management planning • Climate forecasting • Carbon emissions mitigation • Drought recovery • Water management/efficiency, including irrigation strategy Advice indirectly related to climate change management includes: • Farm technical advice (including agronomic, farm analysis, diversification options) • Animal health • Financial assessment and planning • Business management • Budgeting • Taxation implications • Legal*, including succession planning and business structure options • Personal advice* • Legal and personal advice can be provided where the farmer can demonstrate that these are sufficiently linked to managing the impacts of climate change. How do advisers get paid? At the Farm Business Analysis and Financial Assessment session, the farmer should ask the adviser to sign a voucher and send it to Centrelink for payment. The adviser’s tax invoice, which must be sent to Centrelink with the voucher, must include the professional adviser’s name, address, phone number and banking details (including account and branch numbers) for direct credit. The tax invoice should also list the services being charged for and the GST to be paid on each of the services, as well as the advisers Australian Business Number (ABN) and the farmer’s Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN). It should also identify services confirmed with Centrelink as eligible for payment under the Climate Change Adjustment Program. Other information For other information contact: Australia’s Farming Future Information Line: 1800 638 746 Foreign Language Service: 131 202 Visit: http://www.daff.gov.au/farmingfuture