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15/05/2009

Irrigator water savings extension

The Murray Pioneer, Tuesday 12 May

The Rudd Government has extended the deadline for irrigators to increase water use efficiency on their farms under the Murray-Darling Basin Irrigation Management Grant program.

The extension will assist irrigators who received the grant of up to $20,000 up-front and are now having difficulty spending the funds by the original deadline of June 30, 2009.

The devastation of the Victorian bushfires and recent flooding in the northern Murray-Darling Basin have made it difficult for some irrigators to find contractors to undertake important work.

Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said irrigators now have until December 31, 2009, to undertake on-farm work such as laser levelling, reconfiguring irrigation systems, planting water-efficient crops and paying fixed water charges.

“Irrigators came to the Government and asked for some flexibility in the grant program due to the floods and fires,” Burke said.

“This on-farm work is important to help make our irrigation industries more resilient, in the face of severely reduced water allocations.

“It is one way to help farmers meet the future challenges of climate change, while minimising the impact of reduced water allocations on productivity.

“Grant recipients who are finding it hard to source contractors should contact Centrelink and discuss making the necessary arrangements, as soon as it can reasonably be done.”

Applications for the grants closed on March 31 and Centrelink is no longer accepting new applications.

Further information on assistance for local drought-affected farmers is available from the Drought Assistance Hotline on 132 316.

Grant recipients experiencing difficulties in getting contractors to undertake work or who have any questions should contact Centrelink's Murray-Darling Basin Assistance and Referral Hotline on 1800 050 015.

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