Consultation now open for $30m ag-tech acceleration program

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, has announced the opening of public consultation on draft program guidelines for the Government’s $30 million On Farm Connectivity Program (OFCP).

The program, funded through the October 2022 Budget, aims to enable primary producers to extend communications capability and connectivity in agricultural regions.

Improved connectivity will help boost productivity, improve health and safety and support sustainable resource management, the Minister said.

The OFCP is part of the Government’s $1.1 billion “Better Connectivity Plan” aimed at improving mobile and broadband connectivity for communities across the country.

Minister Rowland has said that feedback on the guidelines would ensure the program is fit-for-purpose for Australia’s agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries.

Under this program, there will be up to $30,000 available for a wide range of technologies, including external antennas, boosters and repeaters to extend coverage among other devices which could help optimise and automate systems for the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries.

The consultation also followed an earlier initial industry interest in supplying connected machinery and connectivity equipment for primary producers, which resulted in over 80 applications from participating suppliers.

“The new On Farm Connectivity Program will help give primary producers the tools they need, and it’s fantastic to receive so much interest and engagement from the connected machinery sector,” Minister Rowland said.

“I encourage interested parties to have their say to ensure the OFCP helps improve digital connectivity and encourages the uptake of new and advanced agricultural technologies.”

Consultation on the program guidelines is open until 23 August 2023 and interested parties are encouraged to have their say on the draft Guidelines before they are finalised.