Irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area will benefit from an additional $25 million for on-farm water infrastructure projects following strong demand for the programme, which is already delivering for 348 farms across NSW.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, and NSW Minister for Lands and Water, Niall Blair, welcomed the high level of interest and said the additional funding would allow more irrigators to take part in the Private Irrigation Infrastructure Operators Programme (PIIOP) to help them modernise their farms.

“I’m glad to see the success of the on-farm component of this programme, to date more than 100 irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area are sharing in more than $15 million for on-farm infrastructure upgrades,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Coalition Government is prioritising investment in infrastructure through programmes like PIIOP, over water buy-backs, to implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

“This work is complemented by our broader investment in water infrastructure at a national level, including through the $2 billion National Water Infrastructure Loan Facility and the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

“Since September 2013, in total the Coalition Government has spent nationally around $1.5 billion on water infrastructure modernisation and efficiency improvements.

“More modern, efficient and controllable infrastructure delivers tangible benefits to the farmer—like greater flexibility in crop choice, increased yields and the ability to produce a larger crop from lower water allocations.”

Ms Ley said the upgrades to irrigation schemes being funded under the Plan result in a net increase in water available for productive use, by reducing losses through seepage or evaporation.

“Projects like this not only strengthen water security but also benefit the community and help boost the local economy through the use of local resources and suppliers. Best of all, this additional funding will enable more efficient, controlled water delivery – supporting increased crop production for farmers across the network,” Ms Ley said.

Mr Blair said the three rounds of the programme are providing funding for about 806 kilometres of new or refurbished water delivery channels; 1044 kilometres of stock and domestic pipeline for water supply for 227 farmers; 8694 new meters, control points and channel infrastructure; and improved water delivery infrastructure on 348 farms across NSW.

“We have a sophisticated and efficient irrigated agriculture sector in NSW. This additional funding allows our farmers to continue to stay ahead of the pack, using smarter irrigation systems and maximising yield with less water,” Mr Blair said.

Minister Joyce said that more modern and efficient water infrastructure was the key to securing a healthy and productive future for the Basin, and the communities, ecosystems and industries that depend upon this vital resource.

“This is why, through the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, we are making available more than $8 billion for water infrastructure upgrades—to help ensure farm businesses across the Basin are resilient, productive and sustainable for many generations to come,” Minister Joyce said.