The Australian Government has provided adjustment assistance to the rural sector since 1970 under several schemes. The demand for assistance has been lower than expected, given the alleged size of the problem, particularly for the 'welfare' oriented provisions. The results of a survey of farmers' attitudes to the current Rural Adjustment Scheme are examined in an attempt to explain this phenomenon. Measures designed to ease financial difficulties or to facilitate on-farm adjustment were much preferred to those designed to assist farmers to leave agriculture. Considerable confusion about the scheme was evident and many farmers thought that information about the scheme was inadequate. Better extension and counselling is suggested to improve information flows to farmers. The formulation of a more structured set of eligibility criteria is also suggested to reduce the complexity and uncertainty which farmers face when they are considering lodging an application for assistance.


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