A program to modernise irrigated farms has been opened in northern NSW, with eligible irrigators able to apply for a share of $30 million in funding to upgrade farm infrastructure.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water, Niall Blair, said the latest funding round for the $111 million modernisation program would recover non-productive water and share it between the environment and irrigators.

“We are committed to the regions, that’s why it’s vitally important we don’t take any more water out of basin communities than is absolutely necessary to secure the long-term health of the system,” Mr Joyce said.

“That is why the Coalition Government is focused on investment in infrastructure, not buybacks, to secure water savings across the Murray–Darling Basin.

“Whether it’s building Chaffey Dam or irrigation upgrades, this is real delivery.”

Mr Joyce said the federal government had committed more than $8 billion in water infrastructure across the Murray–Darling Basin, which was the most significant investment in water infrastructure in Australian history.

“Infrastructure upgrades deliver real benefits for irrigators, including greater flexibility in crop choice, improved operational efficiencies, increased yields and enhanced water efficiency.

“Through this program we are recovering non-productive water and sharing that recovered water between the environment and irrigators.”

Mr Blair said this program was an opportunity for northern NSW producers to build additional resilience into their businesses, with water savings shared between the environment and irrigators.

“It’s a better result for farmers, it’s a better result for our rivers and it’s a better result for local communities,” Mr Blair said.

“Previous funding rounds have resulted in over 32GL of identified water savings, with 10GL retained by irrigators to boost on farm productivity.”

All irrigators with eligible entitlements from the Lower Namoi and Border Rivers catchments can apply.

All irrigators with eligible entitlements in the NSW Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi/Peel, Macquarie/Cudgegong and Barwon/Darling water management can apply for Irrigated Farm Water Use Efficiency Assessment (IFWUEA) funding to assist with infrastructure planning.

Applications are open until 30 June 2017.

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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