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WA’s flow-on effect

Cally DupeCountryman
Lake Grace farmer Noel Bairstow.
Camera IconLake Grace farmer Noel Bairstow. Credit: Cally Dupe

A Federal Government scheme designed to help graziers build on-farm water infrastructure has been expanded to allow horticulture producers with permanent plantings to apply.

More than 400 WA farmers with livestock have applied for help through the $50 million On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme since it opened in May.

A total 129 WA projects — totalling $753,867 — have been approved so far, averaging a $6000 rebate per application.

However, just $4.6 million of the $50 million scheme has been made available for WA graziers and horticulture producers with permanent plantings.

Eligible farmers can claim up to 25 per cent of expenses, up to $25,000, for purchasing water infrastructure.

For graziers, this includes buying and installing water storage devices including tanks, troughs, pipes, fittings and pumps, new bores and hiring a contractor to de-silt dams. For horticulture producers, expenses must relate to de-silting dams or drilling new groundwater bores and associated power supply, including generators.

WA was the final eligible jurisdiction to sign up to the extension, with Queensland, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT already on board.

However, the $13 million in additional funding — taking the original $50 million total to $63 million — has not been made available to WA farmers.

WA Water Minister Dave Kelly said he wrote to Federal Drought Minister Littleproud on November 4 to request an additional $2 million for WA only.

“While it’s great that permanent horticulture plantings are now included in the scheme, unlike other States across the country, the Federal Government has not supported this expansion in WA with additional funding,” he said.

“This means that WA’s funding is being spread thin.

“The last thing I want to see is livestock farmers disadvantaged as a result of this change.

“Other States had received a share of an additional $13.2 million to support the schemes expansion, while WA received nothing.”

Mr Kelly said he had not heard back from Mr Littleproud, but hoped “his visit to WA provided him valuable insight into the unique challenges our farmers face”. .

In WA, the funding is being administered by the State’s Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, with applications open on its website.

For livestock farmers, rebates can be applied to costs incurred from June 30, 2018, with applications closing on April 30, 2021, or when the funding allocation runs out.

For horticulture producers, rebates can be applied to costs from June 30, 2019.

Lake Grace farmer Noel Bairstow is one of the 405 WA farmers that has applied for the rebate, submitting a respective application for work already completed.

“We have been allocated the maximum of $25,000, to help with work we have done previously — cleaning and enlarging dams,” he said.

“It all helps, we spent an enormous amount on it to bring those dams up to scratch.

“Thank God we did, because we have caught a bit of water that fell during thunderstorms.”

To find out more about the scheme, or apply for the rebate, visit agriculture.gov.au/water/national/on-farm-infrastructure-rebate.

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