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Two Federal Ministers visited the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) on Monday (28 August) to confirm funding from the Australian Government for the next phase of irrigation modernisation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, announced $20 million for Phase 1B of the MID2030 irrigation modernisation project.

The project will install approximately 38km of pipeline and 33km of existing channels will be upgraded and automated.

The Australian Government and the Victorian Government, which is contributing the same amount to the $60m project, have agreed to a schedule for delivery of the project which will save water, improve productivity and reliability and enable some expansion of irrigated land.

Meeting with Southern Rural Water farmers, staff and contractors, the ministers said the funding delivered on a key election commitment under the government’s $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

“This project will overhaul outdated water infrastructure in the Macalister Irrigation District, delivering water savings that will be used to increase supply security and expand irrigated agriculture, generating a $10.3 million increase in farm gate product each year,” Minister Joyce said.

“It is expected that this project will create 208 jobs during the construction phase, and 100 long term jobs in the region as a result of increased farm production.

He said the project was part of the Coalition’s commitment to unlocking the potential of rural and regional Australia through agricultural productivity and economic growth.”

Mr Chester said the project would ensure the water supply system was operating at its optimum and supporting more productive and profitable farm businesses.

“This is a real win for producers in our state’s largest irrigation district, who are already known for their world-class produce including dairy and horticulture products,” Minister Chester said.

“By minimising water wastage, this project will save 9700 megalitres of water each year, meaning water that would otherwise be lost can be used to increase farm productivity.”

The Macalister Irrigation District services farms involved in dairy and vegetable production, with an estimated annual economic contribution in excess of $500 million per year.

Being delivered in four stages, Phase 1B follows completion of the $32m Phase 1A during 2012-2017. The first stage of Phase 1B was undertaken during winter 2017 and involved 1.6 km of pipeline and a new inlet structure.