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Farmers welcome irrigation spending

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/05/2017

Irrigation investment will be a lifeline for rural communities across New Zealand, Federated Farmers says after the government announced a pre-budget investment in new capital infrastructure.

More than $26 million will be spent over three years to match grant funding for regional scale irrigation schemes, and $63 million will be spent on infrastructure.

"A reliable water supply for growers and farmers has major potential to boost economic growth, creating jobs and exports in the regions," Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.

"The funding we are providing in this budget will help develop new private sector schemes which will reduce the impacts of droughts on rural communities."

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen said irrigation funding would take pressure off water resources, particularly during droughts and dry spells.

"Smart irrigation schemes are rapidly becoming the lifeblood of our rural communities," he said.

"Individual family farms can combine their economic resources and grow strong rural communities because of this, while providing for positive environmental outcomes and the production for high quality food."

Horticulture NZ said it was an important step on the road towards lasting food security, but Greenpeace saw the announcement as an incentive for more dairy farms.

"It's sickening that amidst a freshwater crisis our own government is using public money to help the intensive dairy industry expand, despite the devastation it will cause to our rivers and our way of life," said campaigner Genevieve Toop.

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