News

Grants boost drought infrastructure

By Dairy News

NEARLY 200 dairy farmers are among more than 1600 Victorian farm businesses that have applied for On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants since October 2018.

The grants, which are still open, provide eligible individual farm businesses up to $5000, with applicants required to fund at least half the project.

The Victorian Government established the $13.2 million grants program to assist farm businesses implement on-farm infrastructure that improves drought management and preparedness, and puts the business in a better position for the future.

Agriculture Victoria Dairy Services South East regional manager Del Delpitiya said farmers in East Gippsland had been proactive in seeking advice about using grants to help manage dry conditions.

“For farmers looking to put in a feed pad, upgrading feeding systems or stock containment areas, coming up with a workable plan for managing the effluent is a priority.”

Mr Delpitiya said Agriculture Victoria had expertise in managing effluent, and had been helping dairy farmers with developing effluent use plans.

This process involves taking samples to determine the nutrient value of effluent and providing on-farm application rate recommendations to address agronomic requirements.

“Using effluent wisely means farmers make the most of the nutrients they already have on-farm,” Mr Delpitiya said.

“By working with Agriculture Victoria and doing an effluent use plan, dairy farmers can save between $7000 – $10 000 per annum on fertiliser costs.

Workshops led by Agriculture Victoria in conjunction with Dairy Australia regional development programs have taken place across the state, covering topics such as the climate, fodder shortages and global markets.

But support isn’t just limited to business investments.

Agriculture Victoria has several personal and family support options, including a pool of $1.25 million to help drought-affected families with kindergarten fees. There is also a camps, sports and excursion fund, as well as back-to-school support for families in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires.

For more information on the assistance available, visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons

Visit www.ruralfinance.com.au/ for application forms and guidelines, or phone Rural Finance on 1800 260 425.

Who can apply for On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants?

• Those who own, lease or share farm businesses in the following local government areas can apply: Wellington, East Gippsland, Swan Hill, Gannawarra, Loddon, Campaspe, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Strathbogie, Benalla, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Indigo, Alpine, Towong, Mildura, Hindmarsh, Yarriambiack, Buloke, Horsham and Northern Grampians.

• Eligible participants must derive at least 51 per cent of their gross annual income from the farm business or made a minimum farm-related capital investment of $50 000 (excluding 
land purchase) in the farm business.

• The grant amount must be 50 per cent of the total cost of the project — applicants must match the grant amount with their own funding.

• As a guide, it is anticipated that farm turnover would exceed $50 000/year under normal business conditions (with no adverse climatic conditions).

• Applicants must be registered as a primary producer with the Australian Tax Office and have an ABV and be registered for GST.

• Applicants must contribute more than 51 per cent of their labour to the farming enterprise.

What are eligible infrastructure improvements?

• Items to construct a new, or upgrade an existing, stock containment area.

• Reticulated water systems using pumps, piping, tanks and troughs for livestock.

• Irrigation system upgrades.

• Permanent repairs to fixed water infrastructure.

• Improve water infrastructure for stock management.

• Long-term drought management efficiencies (e.g. soil moisture monitoring, weather stations).

• Grain and fodder storage.

• Internal re-fencing to better match property layout with land capability.

• Shelter belts for shade.

• Upgrading of areas, such as laneways, to deliver lasting productivity and profitability benefits.

• Feeding system upgrades.

• Adoption of precision farming techniques.