​Media Release

$50 million available for innovative irrigation infrastructure in SA

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources​, Anne Ruston
South Australian Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter

5 November 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, together with Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, and SA Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, are encouraging irrigators in South Australia to apply for a share in $50 million to modernise irrigation infrastructure and return water savings to the River Murray.

In Renmark today with Minister Ruston meeting with irrigators, Minister Joyce announced that the third round of the successful South Australian River Murray Sustainability Irrigation Industry Improvement Programme (SARMS-3IP) would open for applications on 16 November.

"This programme supports irrigation farming enterprises to optimise water use and achieve greater business resilience and productivity, delivering water savings to the environment," Minister Joyce said.

"These types of programmes are a key element in our delivery of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and are an effective way of supporting sustainable agricultural production, healthy rivers, and strong communities across the Basin.

"It is expected that the water savings from Round Three of SARMS-3IP will see SA hit its 40 gigalitre water recovery target for the programme on schedule.

"One of the great opportunities SA has is in the expansion of horticulture and the food processing sector as we grow international markets and with this, we hope new jobs for the state."

Minister Ruston said the Australian Government had committed total funding of $265 million to SARMS, with $50 million available under Round Three of SARMS-3IP.

"The Australian Government is committed to delivering the Basin Plan on time and in full, and is investing an average of around $2.5 million every day in infrastructure upgrades to support the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes," Minister Ruston said.

"SARMS helps South Australian irrigators play their part in contributing to the overall health of the river system, including through grants to improve water use efficiency and enhance industry competitiveness—helping ensure the continued sustainability of the sector, the river and communities.

"For example, a project funded under round one of the programme has seen one producer upgrade 380 hectares of irrigation to improve irrigation efficiencies and increase production, product quality and crop size—and they have had to purchase 2000 fruit bins to accommodate increased crop production. So the environmental benefits of this programme go hand-in-hand with genuine productivity and profitability benefits for farm businesses," Minister Ruston said today.

Minister Hunter said the 3IP funding programme had been in high demand, with more than 500 expressions of interest in rounds one and two.

"So far $170 million has been invested in 170 projects—creating 250 new jobs, with more than 500 new ongoing jobs predicted in future years," Minister Hunter said.

"I know this programme generates great interest and excitement in SA's River Murray communities, and so far the state's irrigators have demonstrated how innovative and future-thinking they are. We are again looking for projects which demonstrate innovative irrigation efficiencies and new technology.

"The State Government has worked tirelessly to ensure a healthy River Murray, essential to the prosperity of river communities. SARMS is an excellent example of the Australian and State Governments working together and with industry to support regional communities and create new opportunities for local businesses."

Minister Joyce is on-the-ground hearing first-hand from irrigators and stakeholders across the Murray-Darling Basin this week.

Visit pir.sa.gov.au/sarms-iiip for further information or to register to receive Round Three information.​