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Luxton Encourages Take-Up Of Government Irrigation

Speaking to Otago farmers in drought affected areas today, Food and Fibre Minister John Luxton encouraged them to take up the Government's offer of funding to improve management of scarce water resources.

The Contestable Water Studies Fund was established to enable water feasibility studies to occur in drought prone areas. AGMARDT and Government have set up the Fund with a $2 million contribution, in partnership with a one-third contribution from community groups.

"Applications are encouraged from community groups consisting of farmers, service agencies, agribusinesses, district and regional councils in Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Northern Southland. The main requirement is community backing to promote the better use or development of water resources in the area."

"Applications do not need to be on a grand scale but they do need to show how the information obtained will be made available to the community and how the proposal will be adopted if successful."

Of the 17 applications received so far, two have already been approved and 15 others have been initiated to submit more information. Inquiries have been received from the Hawkdun area of Central Otago, East Otago, North and South Canterbury. The high quality of the two proposals approved, reflects the value of a good consultation process, extensive farmer and community input.

Mr Luxton said he appreciated the drought, accentuated by declining commodity prices, had brought financial difficulty and stress and he hoped communities would be able to overcome those hurdles and make the most of the scheme.

"I encourage those in affected areas to take up the Government's funding offer to mitigate the impacts of drought through careful use of our land and water resources," Mr Luxton said.

Guidelines for making an application to the Fund are available on the website www.agmardt.org.nz, or by contacting Susan Christie, AGMARDT, PO Box 399, Shortland Street, Auckland.

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