State’s Farmers Left High and Dry by Commonwealth Government

19th May 2020

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall has implored the Commonwealth Government to step up and commit an additional $9.1 million to continue its Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme (EWIR) for the benefit of the State’s farmers still in the grip of drought.

The EWIR is a Commonwealth program, administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA), that allows primary producers to access a 25 per cent rebate, up to $25,000, on new purchases and installation costs of new water infrastructure on their farms.

Last weekend, the Deputy Premier and Mr Marshall announced a $310 million boost to NSW drought relief measures to continue existing assistance programs, which took the NSW Government’s total drought and water security support commitment to more than $4 billion.

“We’re only asking the Commonwealth to stump up a mere fraction of this amount to continue one of the most popular and successful drought management programs available to farmers,” Mr Marshall said.

“The drought is far from over and I cannot believe the Commonwealth is simply pulling up stumps on this program and walking away.

“This is a crucial drought program that helps farmers make their properties more water efficient and more resilient for the next inevitable extended dry period.

“The NSW Government is doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to drought support and it would be great for our Commonwealth counterparts to help shoulder the load.

“All we are asking for is $9.1 million dollars in funding to continue providing rebates under the scheme until 30 June this year.

“I’m pleading with the Commonwealth Government to urgently re-consider our request for additional funding to continue the EWIR.”

Mr Marshall said the Commonwealth’s decision had left him with no other choice than to instruct the RAA to inform all applicants that the EWIR program would be shutting down.

“This is bitterly disappointing, not only to me as the Minister for Agriculture, but mostly, to the many primary producers who applied for the EWIR on the understanding that the program would continue through 2020-21, as originally intended,” Mr Marshall said.

“This drought is bigger than any one jurisdiction to manage and that is why I am so disappointed and upset the Commonwealth Government has not come to the table to provide the additional funding needed to continue this valuable program.”

Since 2018, more than 2,800 primary producers have received $16.8 million for rebates on eligible work and the RAA currently holds applications to the value of $6.1 million in excess of Commonwealth funding.

NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the Commonwealth Government’s decision to stop funding the EWIR was extremely disappointing.

“This is a tiny investment in a successful drought proofing scheme that has far reaching benefits beyond the farm,” Mr Jackson said.

“The State Government has stepped up when it comes to ongoing drought support measures, whereas the Federal Government is stepping back.

"We implore the Federal Government to reconsider funding for this program as a matter of urgency."

click for larger image