Don't forget we are still in drought

NSW Farmers' urge the Federal Government to reconsider Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme

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NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall launching a new bore in Glen Innes.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall launching a new bore in Glen Innes.

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NSW Farmers' are calling on the federal government to continue the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme (EWIR) following it's decision to discontinue funding.

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NSW Farmers' are calling on the federal government to continue the Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme (EWIR) following it's decision to discontinue the funding.

The program, administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA), commenced on July 1, 2018 to provide a 25 per cent rebate on, up to $25,000 on purchases and installation costs of water infrastructure projects, and was expected to run until June 30, 2021.

Since 2018, more than 2800 NSW primary producers have received $16.8 million for rebates on eligible works.

But the NSW Government has been advised that no additional funding would be forthcoming from the federal government and the RAA would be obligated to close the program.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson said the closure of the program was an enormous disappointment to the state's primary producers who were continuing to battle unrelenting drought.

"The federal government should not forget that we are still in drought with much of NSW in drought or drought affected," Mr Jackson said.

"Investing in water infrastructure will not only benefit governments but it's not a bad stimulus package sourcing local contractors that drive local economies.

"The decision to stop the funding is very ill conceived."

Mr Jackson said NSW Farmers' had been calling for the rebate to be increased to 50 per cent.

"There is no doubt that this program has been successful in NSW, with ongoing demand reflecting the severity of the drought across the state," he said.

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

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson.

NSW Farmers' president James Jackson.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall has also been lobbying the Federal Government for the program to be continued.

In letters obtained by The Land Mr Marshall wrote to Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt urging the federal government to reconsider NSW Government's original request for an additional $9.1 million in funding to continue EWIR.

"While parts of NSW have experienced some good rain and a slight improvement in conditions, more than 80 per cent of our state is still in the grip of drought and our farmers continue to battle through the worst drought we have ever seen, which has taken a mammoth toll on our rural and regional communities," Mr Marshall said in the letter.

Mr Marshall also outlined that the program had been popular in the state as the RAA currently held applications to the value of $6.1 million and had received around 100 applications per week from farmers, to the value of around $500,000.

"This is a crucial drought program that helps farmers make their properties more resilient for the next inevitable extended dry period," he said in the letter.

Mr Marshall also wrote that as additional Commonwealth funding for this program was not forthcoming, it was "with great regret' that he would be instructing the RAA to inform all applicants of this outcome and the shutting down of the EWIR program.

"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," he said in the letter.

'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."

In a letter sent to Mr Marshall by Mr Pitt it stated the federal government would not agree to NSW's request for additional funding of $9.1 million in 2019/2020 following the "careful consideration of requests from a number of jurisdiction for additional funding in 2019/2020 and the relatively small amount of unallocated funding available.

"In reaching my decision, I took into account the significant additional funding NSW previously received in 2019/2020," Mr Pitt said in his letter to Mr Marshall.

"Jurisdictions have been allocated their 2020/2021 funding and there is currently no additional funding available to be allocated for the next financial year."

It comes after the NSW government announced a $310 million boost to its drought relief measures to continue existing assistance programs through the next six to 12 months, taking the state's total drought and water security support commitment to more than $4 billion.

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