The Commonwealth of New South Wales has granted $260 million in funding to farmers and irrigators in southern NSW. Funding under the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program will also aid in returning water savings to the local environment.

Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, congratulated the successful funding recipients of Round Five of the Program.

“Under the Coalition’s Clean Water Plan, we’re investing more than $12 billion in managing our waterways and key water infrastructure,” Minister Hunt said.

“This latest $263.5 million investment will assist irrigators in the southern Murray-Darling Basin modernise their on-farm irrigation infrastructure.

“This is not only helping farmer’s bottom line but importantly is also returning water savings to the environment.”

Federal Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Baldwin, joined NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Lands and Water, Niall Blair, at the Leeton property of one of the successful recipients.

“We know that upgrades to irrigation infrastructure improves on-farm water efficiency and productivity and delivers triple bottom line outcomes for rural communities, economies and the environment,” Mr Baldwin said.

“This program is a success story and we’ve seen the real change that can be achieved when infrastructure is upgraded in a considered and practical way.

“I’d like to thank the NSW Government for its unfaltering support for this initiative that is helping bring to life the benefits available under the Basin Plan for a growing number of farming communities.”

Minister Blair said that so far the program has supported over 1,400 irrigators, including more than 600 from NSW, to improve water efficiency on their properties.

“It’s great to be here in the Murrumbidgee Valley to recognise the successful applicants under the final funding round of this program,” Minister Blair said.

“We’re delighted to be able to contribute a further $40 million in addition to the $25 million we’d already committed.

“Projects will include laser levelling of paddocks, upgrading overhead irrigation, replacing flood irrigation, modernising drip irrigation systems and installing soil moisture monitoring and automation equipment.”

The successful organisations to receive funding are Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia Inc; Murray and Murrumbidgee Consortiums; Waterfind Pty Ltd; CAF Consulting; Australian Processing Tomato Research Council; Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited; and Murray Irrigation Limited.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said the program will deliver tangible benefits to local communities by helping to secure long-term viability and economic growth.

“In Leeton alone, in excess of $32 million of conditional funding has been approved. This will enable irrigation efficiency upgrades to be put in place in a shorter period of time,” Mr McCormack said.

Federal Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, said the program is all about best-practice for local irrigators.

“The program ensures a localised approach which, not only meets water delivery targets, but works in with the needs of our local producers,” Ms Ley said.

NSW Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli said that it would be great to see environmental outcomes being achieved through efficiency and productivity measures.

“The fifth and final round of the program was initially announced in November 2014 with $125 million available to irrigators in southern New South Wales.

This has been boosted by a further $138.5 million from the Commonwealth and the NSW Government,” Mr Piccoli said.

The water savings generated under the program will see more than 70 gigalitres returned to the environment.

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