The McGowan Government’s WaterSmart Farms program is set for a $4 million boost, supporting more Western Australian farmers to manage the impacts of climate change.
In February 2021, the McGowan Government allocated an initial $1.5 million funding injection to get phase one of the WaterSmart Farms program underway.
Phase one focuses on on-farm desalination in agricultural regions to process brackish groundwater for agricultural use, and improving on-farm dams and catchments to provide water in dry periods.
The project will now expand with an additional $4 million funding boost – $1 million from the McGowan Government’s Agriculture Climate Resilience Fund, and $2.99 million from the Commonwealth Government’s Drought Resilience Innovation Grants.
Phase two – WaterSmart Dams – will be led by the Grower Group Alliance in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Compass Agricultural Alliance, Southern Dirt, Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group and the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, together with The University of Western Australia.
The research will explore solutions to improve existing dams and develop new options to capture and store water during prolonged periods of low rainfall.
The $15 million Agriculture Climate Resilience Fund was a McGowan Government election commitment to support WA farmers as climate change causes hot and drier conditions in the agricultural regions.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“Climate change is making farming more and more difficult in WA, with conditions getting hotter and drier year-on-year.
“Our WaterSmart Farms program is about encouraging on-farm initiatives that build climate resilience, helping farmers to take the steps they need to manage climate impacts.
“The McGowan Government’s $15 million Agriculture Climate Resilience Fund is already paying dividends for WA growers, helping us to secure co-investment to back local programs that support farmers.
“It is just one part of our Government’s commitment to helping farmers build resilience, alongside the $15 million Carbon Farming and Land Restoration Program and the Southern Rangelands Revitalisation Program.”