Farmers will be offered rebates of up to $30,000 to purchase connectivity equipment like antennas and devices like irrigation controllers in a government push to automate and optimise agtech across the country that took another step on Wednesday.
Consultation on guidelines have opened for the two-year, $30 million On Farm Connectivity Program that forms part of the Albanese government’s $1.1 billion Better Connectivity Plan.
The On Farm Connectivity Program aims to enable primary producers in agriculture, forestry and/or fisheries to take advantage of digital agriculture by subsidising some of the costs of connectivity equipment and devices.
The Australian Farm Institute estimates the uptake of digital agriculture by the sector could add $20 billion in additional value to the sector.
An election commitment for the Albanese government that it funded last October, the program will offer $30 million over two rounds that are expected to be oversubscribed.
The grants will be used to help primary producers purchase connectivity devices like antennas, repeaters and repeaters and connected devices like soil moisture probes, plant growth monitors, and livestock monitoring systems.
The Infrastructure department also ran an expression of interest process for suppliers to determine eligible equipment, but the final list is yet to be revealed.
According to draft guidelines released on Wednesday, the funding will be dispersed on a first come, first serve basis for eligible applicants. To be eligible for the grants, applicants will need a pre-tax income of between $40,000 and $2 million, ruling out hobby farmers and bigger primary producers.
The influential National Farmers Federation had asked for the cap to be removed during consultations.
Communications minister Michelle Rowland announced the release of draft guidelines on Wednesday.
“The Albanese government is committed to ensuring our primary producers have the support that they need to access cutting-edge connected technology to boost productivity and global competitiveness,” she said.
“The new On Farm Connectivity Program will help give primary producers the tools they need, and it’s fantastic to receive so much interest and engagement from the connected machinery sector.
“I encourage interested parties to have their say to ensure the OFCP helps improve digital connectivity and encourages the uptake of new and advanced agricultural technologies.”
Stakeholders will be able to give feedback on the guidelines by August 23, with the first round of the On Farm Connectivity Program to begin later in the year.
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