Joint media release: Water for Fodder program helped in hard times

7 August 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, The Hon. Keith Pitt MP 
South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, The Hon. David Speirs MP


The Review of Round 1 of the Water for Fodder program found it succeeded in helping farmers in the southern Basin at a time of significant drought and water shortage.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the review included targeted stakeholder feedback, independent analysis and over 800 survey responses and written submissions in determining the report’s findings. 

“Round 1 of the Water for Fodder program provided real assistance to 800 farmers, their stock and their communities who all benefited from discounted water to grow fodder or pasture,” Minister Pitt said.

“By providing 50 megalitre parcels of water at the significantly discounted price of $100 a megalitre, we helped those farm businesses during a difficult period of water shortages.

The review was conducted in two parts – an independent analysis of the Round 1 of the program, and a stakeholder feedback report. Both of those reports have been published this week, and will inform the government’s decision on the program’s future.

“Stakeholder feedback indicated that 68 per cent of respondents support the Water for Fodder Program and 84 per cent of Round 1 applicants said they would apply again if they had the opportunity.

“However, the independent technical review found that while the water supply situation for South Australia will develop over the water year, it will not be until after winter and some spring inflows that actual water availability for the 2020-21 water year will be more clearly known. 

“I intend to work and consult closely with South Australia on the future of the program.”

South Australian Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the program was another example of federal and state governments working together.

“The Water for Fodder program was an historic agreement between the Australian and South Australian governments to use Adelaide’s Desalination Plant to support drought-affected farmers in a great time of need,” Minister Speirs said.

“As we have always said we would review the program before commencing the second round to assess water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin, the impacts of different water dependent industries and to protect South Australia’s water security.

“The South Australian Government looks forward to working with the Australian Government as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder to support farmers across the country who are doing it tough.”

The Water for Fodder Round 1 Review reports are available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Water for Fodder page.

The South Australian Government has also today released a report into the feasibility of using the Adelaide Desalination Plant as part of the Basin Plan’s Water Efficiency Program. Available here

Fast Facts

  • The Water for Fodder program was announced in November 2019 as an emergency drought response measure to help farmers maintain their breeding stock.
  • This program was made possible through the South Australian Government operating the Adelaide Desalination Plant to produce water supplies for Adelaide. This allowed water in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin to be made available for farmers to grow fodder and pasture.