For many winegrape producers, the 2023 vintage was the most difficult and challenging since the turn of the century. A recent profitability project by Charles Sturt University estimates that winegrape production is not a financially viable business for many growers in inland Australia. We encourage impacted businesses to consider their eligibility for Government assistance to help through these difficult times. The Farm Household Allowance program provides support for planning and training for long-term financial improvements as well as income support for up to 4 years.
If you are suffering significant financial hardship, you are not alone, and the major contributors may be well beyond your direct control. Wine Australia recently released their Vintage Report which estimated that difficult seasonal conditions have put the Australian winegrape crush for 2023 at just 1.32 million tonnes, the lowest since 2000. The three large inland regions suffered most with their crush down 28% compared to 2022. This has coincided with a time where freight, chemical and labour costs are sky-rocketing and a significant over-supply problem exists across many key grape varieties. Hardships driven by inflationary pressure, rising input costs, the ongoing decline in global wine consumption, changing consumer tastes and loss of Australian wine exports to China are likely to continue for quite some time.
The Farm Household Allowance goes beyond direct income support to cover new skills training and development, cost of living supplements and services for business to help identify opportunities to make changes. Growers with a net asset value below $5.5million (excluding their home) are likely to be eligible. Eligibility is also determined based on a personal income threshold which considers farm losses as part of the calculation. We encourage grape growers to consider this opportunity. Basic information about the allowance is provided in a FHA Fact Sheet.