Budget boost for irrigation

THE Albanese Government’s first Federal Budget delivered by Treasurer Jim Chalmers this week included more than $1 billion in funding for agriculture, including significant funds to biosecurity, drought resilience and emissions reduction.

Of chief interest to Tasmanian agriculture is the expansion of the Australian biosecurity program and continued funding for the Tasmanian Pipeline to Prosperity irrigation scheme.

$134.1 million will be provided to expand the nation’s biosecurity program, which includes $61 million in enhancing domestic detection and response capability in northern Australia; $46.7 million on improving on-farm biosecurity and supporting the transition to a national livestock traceability system; $14 million to further improve biosecurity systems and support neighbouring countries battling FMD and LSD; and $11.7 million to expand detector dog capability at Australian borders. $4 million will also be provided to expand the functions of the Inspector-General to include animal welfare objectives for exported livestock. $100 million has been promised to Tasmania’s pipeline scheme.

“Tonight’s funding announcement provides additional certainty around the Federal Government’s commitment to funding irrigation infrastructure in the state and will enable additional work to be completed to advance the next important irrigation projects,”

Tasmanian Irrigation Chief Executive Officer Andrew Kneebone said. “Six Tranche Three projects are currently being advanced – Don, Northern Midlands, Tamar, Southern Midlands, the Greater South-East and an augmentation of the Sassafras Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme. “Construction on the Don Irrigation Scheme has already commenced and Northern Midlands will be the next to proceed to construction, subject to approval of business case.”

Significant funds have also been allocated to help farmers battle climate change and encourage emission reducing practices. $20.8 million will be provided to support drought readiness, including $14.3 million towards establishing drought resilience research. $8.1 million will be provided over three years to support commercialisation of seaweed as a low-emission feed supplement and support projects that lower barriers to market entry. $20.3 million will go towards establishing an outreach program to empower farmers and land managers to participate in carbon markets and integrate low-emission technologies and practices, while a further $62.6 million will support small to medium enterprises to fund energy efficient equipment upgrades. $12.3 million will also be provided to support regional trade events that showcase agricultural products, services and expertise to domestic and international stakeholders.

Individual grants have also been provided to Tasmanian businesses, with $11.1 for Ingham’s Carbon Zero Certified business model, $6.1 to upgrade the Waverley Wool Mills and $2.1 million to expand Costa Group’s berry distribution centre.