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Close to $151 million in funding across the electorate of Farrer will allow almost 200 irrigators to upgrade and modernise their on-farm water infrastructure.

As part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, more than $500 million has now been contracted under five rounds of the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program (OFIEP).

Eight Farrer based companies have been allocated funding as delivery partners in the program.

The Ricegrowers Association of Australia (RGA) has received funding for its Murrumbidgee and Murray valley consortiums.

The bulk of the funding — 58 projects valued at $45,032,935 — will go to Murrumbidgee-based projects with the remaining to be spent in Murray where 12 projects will be funded.

Other recipients include Murray Irrigation Limited, Coleambally Irrigation Coop Ltd, Waterfind, CAF Consulting, Irrigation Efficiency Partners and the Australian Processing Tomato Research Council.

The RGA is the lead agency of both the Murray and Murrumbidgee consortiums, which have shared in about $47 million.

Murray Local Land Services and Moira Irrigation are also members of the Murray consortium.

Murrumbidgee partners are Riverina Local Land Services, Murray Irrigation, Murrumbidgee irrigators, the Wine Grape Makers Board and a number of other private irrigators.

RGA Executive Officer, Graeme Kruger, said it will be spent mainly on improving irrigation systems and farm layouts.

‘‘We have been concentrating our applications on the Murrumbidgee area as Murray Irrigation Limited has much of the Murray Valley covered under its application,’’ Mr Kruger said.

‘‘The feedback we’re receiving from farmers is that they could never afford to make these improvements without this funding, and they are seeing definite water savings as well as production gains and efficiencies in speed.

‘‘Programs like this are definitely more palatable than buy-backs (to recover water for environmental assets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan).’’

Murray Irrigation Limited’s round five allocation is more than $8 million.

Customer account manager, Michael Pisasale, said contracts for 38 projects in the company’s footprint are currently being finalised.

‘‘It is estimated that the projects being undertaken will see an extra 1,000 megalitres (of water) utilised through better management of on-farm water,’’ Mr Pisasale said.

Murray Irrigation has received funding in four of the five rounds offered to date, and also participated in the pilot program.

Mr Pisasale said the resulting programs have seen a number of farms improve their water use efficiency and on-farm productivity.

‘‘These farms are efficient and productive, and that means they continue to use available water in most years because they know they will get returns on it,’’ Mr Pisasale said.

The new round of funding was announced jointly by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Federal Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley.

Mr Joyce said up to half the water savings generated under the program will be kept by the irrigator, allowing them to take water that would otherwise have been lost through seepage, evaporation, or over watering. Remaining savings are returned to the Commonwealth, to be used to support the long-term health and sustainability of the basin environment.

 

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