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Out-of-touch Nats need numeracy training

The National Party has completely misinterpreted the Budget figures on funding for the Sustainable Farming Fund, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said that last year, he had promised there would be $10 million available for allocation through the Sustainable Farming Fund this year, and in fact $10.295 million would be available for allocation.

He said it had been clearly spelt out last year that the Contestable Water Fund was finishing, and grants for irrigation feasibility studies and other water projects would be funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

"The National Party has been carrying out a rural tour ? perhaps if they actually paid some attention to what was going on and read the material available about rural projects and funding schemes, maybe they would know what was going on."

Mr Sutton said grants from the Sustainable Farming Fund were chosen by an independent panel.

Last year, the panel did not allocate all the $5 million available to the fund and the left-over money had been rolled over to the fund again this year, meaning that the allocation of new money in this year's Budget was reduced.

Mr Sutton said this did not mean less money was available than promised.

"Some of the projects funded last year in the first round of the fund are coming to fruition. I believe the results from those projects will inspire more innovative project applications from around the country, and I will be pushing to again increase the funding for the the Fund.

"The fund will get $25 million over the first three years of the scheme, as originally announced.

"After that, more funding should be available, as long as the scheme is a success."

ENDS

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