Media Release

$65 million for River Murray irrigation projects​

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Baldwin MP
SA Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell MP

20 May 2015

More than $65 million will be shared by 61 South Australian irrigation and industry projects to improve farm productivity and return water to the River Murray.

The Irrigation Industry Improvement Program (3IP) funding includes $16.3 million for Renmark Irrigation Trust and $8.7 million for Sunlands Irrigation Trust.

Australian Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said 3IP grants were being made through the Commonwealth funded $265 million South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) Programme.

“Water is the source of wealth and consequently water infrastructure has been identified as a core government priority. The $265 million programme was developed to help deliver South Australian outcomes under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” Minister Joyce said.

“These projects will bring South Australia closer to the 40 gigalitre target for water recovery under SARMS, as part of its overall Basin Plan targets.

“In Round One, more than 100 South Australian River Murray irrigators committed to returning over 20 gigalitres. Their swift implementation has seen the return of 15 gigalitres.

“Round Two funding has been offered to over 60 projects, with a further 14 gigalitres of water to be returned to the River – bringing South Australia to within 6 gigalitres of the 40 gigalitre target.

“Whether it is investing in efficiency on-farm or storage off-farm, all governments share a commitment to realising the best return for every dollar spent,” Minister Joyce said.

South Australia’s Agriculture Minister, Leon Bignell, said the projects demonstrated how well the state’s irrigators operate.

Our River Murray irrigators have led the nation in water efficiency. From capping their take from the River in the 1960s, to upgrading their irrigation systems during the 1980s and 1990s, they continue to be at the forefront of efficient production,” Minister Bignell said.

“The announcement of these successful projects today is further tribute to the river communities and Premier Jay Weatherill who worked hard to ensure this funding was secured.

“The successful projects cover traditional River Murray industries such as viticulture and citrus, as well as the rapidly growing almond industry.

“This is a significant opportunity for South Australia, particularly with the recent announcement by the Almond Board of Australia to locate the National Almond Centre of Excellence at our Loxton Research Centre.”

Federal Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Bob Baldwin, welcomed the announcement of the successful Round Two applicants under the South Australian River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) Programme.

“The South Australian River Murray Sustainability Program is one developed from the grassroots up and a good example of what the Commonwealth is aiming to achieve,” Minister Baldwin said.  

“This programme has the broad goal of ensuring both water security and efficiency alongside productivity and economic development for our communities, and is assisting in reshaping the River Murray region.

“The Australian Government is committed to seeing triple bottom line outcomes for Basin communities, economies and environments. 

“We are committed to seeing the Basin Plan implemented in full and on time and I look forward to hearing about the progress and success of the Round Two projects and the environmental and community benefits the projects are assisting to deliver,” Minister Baldwin said.

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Other projects to be offered grants in Round Two include:
  • The Fischers from Meningie are developing a showcase facility for intensive dairy production. The facility will increase the size of their milking herd and maximise production per cow, and a new effluent​​ management system will increase the economic viability and sustainability of the property.
  • An innovative Barossa enterprise, Thorne-Clarke Wines, will decrease their reliance on River Murray water through the installation and commissioning of a new desalination plant.
  • Loxton apple growers, Joyson Orchards, will employ cutting-edge technology by using shade netting over their 100 hectare orchard to mitigate the risk of damage from heat, sun, hail and birds.
  • Feher Vineyards will redevelop their existing crop profile on their property at Barmera with higher value varieties that are rare and attractive to the region.
  • Award-winning Fat Goose Fruits in Renmark will achieve full organic accreditation with their project, which includes enhancing established organic growing techniques throughout the property through the innovative use of geese, miniature sheep and native animals.
  • The Renmark-Paringa Council will further develop their Water Conservation Plan by extending their re-use network for recycled water.