THE South Australian government has agreed to match $3.7 million in federal government funding to roll out a second round of the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme, some four months after the round was announced.
Through the expanded investment, eligible farmers can claim up to 25 per cent of the eligible infrastructure costs, capped at $25,000, with the state and the Australian government contributing half each.
This is a return to the original rebate rate. Previously, producers were able to claim as much as 50pc, after the state government announced it would match the federal funding, causing the scheme to be oversubcribed.
Just last week, Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt was saying only WA had committed to the new round, issuing a warning that farmers would be the losers if states continued to delay signing up to an agreement.
"Unfortunately thousands of farmers across the country were left out of pocket when the scheme was oversubscribed and the federal government funding boost will prioritise them being reimbursed," he said.
"The financial involvement of states will help ensure better management of the scheme so that farmers aren't left to pick up the bill."
In the past few days, both SA and NSW have committed to the scheme.
Mr Pitt said this was a great outcome for farmers and he urged other states that had not yet shown their commitment to this scheme to act swiftly and sign up.
"The rebate scheme is about delivering practical support for our farmers to complete critical on-farm water infrastructure projects on the ground in order to maintain a more reliable and sustainable water supply into the future," he said.
"Primary producers and horticultural producers in SA will be able to get on with important drought-proofing works including improving water storage on their farms through the installation of tanks, troughs, pipes, pumps and drilling new bores."
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Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said he was thrilled to support South Australian farmers who were still doing it tough.
"Our farmers are the backbone of South Australia's economy and the importance of agriculture across the country has been further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
"Many parts of the state are still suffering through drought and we are proud to continue to support those farmers doing it tough.
"This funding boost will allow more drought-affected farmers to access help and install vital on-farm water infrastructure such as water storages, pumps, pipes, distilling dams, and associated power supplies such as generators."
Member for Barker Tony Pasin welcomed the state government's cooperation with the scheme.
"Over 500 legacy projects in SA alone will immediately benefit from the state government's decision to match the federal government's $3.7 million provided for under this scheme," he said.
"We're giving farmers the tools to better manage future droughts so we can keep producing best quality food and fibre for the world, and keep regional economies going."
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the scheme was making great inroads into reducing the impact of drought and improving drought resilience.
"This scheme had been over-subscribed, and farmers had spent money in good faith and been unable to get a refund," he said.
"So it is very pleasing that those who have already committed will be able to be supported and that we will see further investments in one of farming's most limiting factors, water supply."
SA was originally allocated $5m in the original scheme, and with low initial take-up, changed the conditions, lifting the rebate from 25pc to 50pc.
Within months, close to 450 landholders had applied for the rebate, exhausting the allocation.
In late September, Mr Basham said they had found an extra $2m to allow existing applications to be processed, with $1.45m for potential applicants who have already undertaken work and incurred costs, but not yet applied, to access a 30pc rebate, up to $30,000.
The state government then requested the federal government consider additional funding, at which point the rebate could return to 50pc.
The federal government announced it was extending the scheme with another $50m - making the total investment $100m - in early October, with the deal with SA not finalised until now.
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