[25 September/ABC News] According to Australian government figures, only a tiny fraction of farmers eligible for federal drought relief payments are receiving them. It is the payment equivalent to the unemployment benefit to help producers pay for food and household bills. The Federal Agriculture Department said 26,500 farmers who were eligible had not applied. The lengthy application process was a key reason for this. NSW Country Women’s Association President, Annette Turner, said some had resorted to paying accountants to help them instead. There were initially 100 questions on the application form, however it had been reduced to seventy. Workshops were held to increase assistance with the filing of the forms. Former rural financial counsellor, Jim Claringbold, suggested the Government should relax the criteria for off-farm income as a priority. Many take up off-farm work to avoid going down the welfare payments path. Mr Claringbold noted the solution to attract more farmers were in removing it from the social welfare system.