Applications are now open for Round 1 of the federal government's $30 million On Farm Connectivity Program.
The program works by giving rebates to agtech suppliers, which comes with the condition that this is then passed onto farmers through discounted products.
There are 79 equipment suppliers who have signed on to the program including Elders, Bushman Tanks, Farmbot and INCYT. A full list of the suppliers taking part is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/ofcp.
The aim of the program is to increase the uptake of agtech and help boost productivity, growth and sustainability of Australia's primary producers.
The $30 million program was funded through the October 2022-23 Federal Budget. It will enable primary producers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries to extend connectivity further onto their properties and take advantage of connected machinery and sensor technology.
It will provide 50 per cent rebates for the cost of smart farming technology that can help to optimise soil quality and nutrient levels, monitor livestock, improve efficiency of water use, streamline farm logistics and boost customer connections throughout the world.
Following an expression of interest process earlier this year, the 79 equipment suppliers who have signed on to the program will be able to apply for rebates of between $3000 and $30,000 for eligible equipment purchased by primary producers.
Rebates will be available for a wide range of technology including external antennas, repeaters, boosters, sensors, automated tank systems and pump controllers, animal movement tags and relevant installation and training costs.
The OFCP is part of the Albanese Government's $656 million Better Connectivity Plan, which is helping improve mobile and broadband connectivity and resilience in communities across the country.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the rebates would help drive growth in the agtech sector.
"The Albanese Government recognises the importance of our agricultural sector, which feed millions and supports thousands of jobs," she said.
"That's why we've launched the new $30 million On Farm Connectivity Program to give farmers and producers access to the technology they need to boost productivity, reduce costs, operate more efficiently, sustainably and safely."
The rebate program has been welcomed by the National Farmers' Federation.
"The program is an enormous win for farmers and people in the bush who have struggled with connectivity issues and digital literacy," NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
"We commend Minister Rowland's commitment to closing this connectivity gap, but also for acknowledging a program tailored to the very specific and unique requirements in the bush is the best way forward".
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said the On Farm Connectivity Program would provide a significant boost to the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors by enabling producers to take advantage of new technologies and innovation.