Releasing the program guidelines, Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Penny Wong, said the funding would help irrigation communities adjust to a future with less water by supporting farmers investing in water-saving irrigation practices and technology.
'The Rudd Government is getting on with the job of preparing for a future with less rain because of climate change,' Senator Wong said.
'Central to our plan to get the Murray-Darling Basin back onto a sustainable footing is a strong and vibrant future for our irrigation communities.
'We are investing in irrigation infrastructure to help our farmers and regional communities and protect food security.'
Senator Wong said the On-Farm Irrigation Infrastructure Program was open to irrigators in the Southern Basin and the Lachlan River catchment.
The new program invites competitive bids to deliver cost-effective 'tranches' of on-farm investment from partners such as irrigation water providers, peak-industry groups and catchment management authorities.
The program has been modelled on the arrangements trialled through the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency (Pilot Projects) program. It will invest in more efficient irrigation systems in areas where a long-term economic and environmental benefit can be demonstrated.
The projects must help secure a long-term sustainable future for irrigation communities; deliver substantial and lasting returns of water to the environment to secure real improvements in river health; and deliver value for money.
The $300 million in funding comes from the $5.8 billion Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure program, a key plank of the Government's 10-year, $12.9 billion Water for the Future plan. Funding starts in 2009-10 and continues until 2013.