Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment
The Hon. Peter Walsh MP
Victorian Minister for Water
First tranche of $100 million Commonwealth funding now available for Victorian Farm Modernisation Project
Joint media release
4 December 2013
The first round of funding from the $100 million Victorian Farm Modernisation Project is now available, with around 140 Goulburn-Murray farmers set to replace inefficient infrastructure.
The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have signed a funding agreement that makes available $30 million for stage one.
Senator Simon Birmingham said the infrastructure upgrades will help irrigators increase on farm productivity and improve on farm efficiency.
"Optimising irrigation water use and efficiency is key to strengthening the economic base and viability of local communities in the Goulburn-Murray district. It is an important part of implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and a priority of the Abbott government," Senator Birmingham said.
"This project illustrates the Commonwealth Government's commitment to implementing the Basin Plan on time and in full, while balancing the needs of industry, communities and the environment.
"Over the next four years almost $3 billion is forecast to be spent on rural water use and infrastructure projects like this across the Murray Darling Basin."
Overall, the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project will result in 30 gigalitres of water being transferred to the Commonwealth for environmental use. The remainder of the water savings will be held by participating farmers to increase productivity.
Victorian Minister for Water Peter Walsh said the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project demonstrated that water recovery could be achieved without undermining valuable farm businesses.
"Victoria's support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was contingent on the inclusion of infrastructure works and irrigation modernisation projects because we recognised that by being smarter about water use, it is possible to balance the needs of irrigation communities and the environment," Mr Walsh said.
"A strong number of expressions of interest have been received from Goulburn-Murray farmers for stage one and we expect similar interest in subsequent rounds.
"These on-farm works align with the $2 billion Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project which is investing in a more efficient and affordable irrigation delivery network for Northern Victoria.
"Case studies show that modernised on-farm infrastructure connected to modernised supply systems can increase pasture yield and improve farm labour efficiency, as well as deliver water savings.
"The Victorian Farm Modernisation Project will also provide health benefits to rivers and streams by reducing run-off into the Goulburn and Murray catchments," Mr Walsh said.