Digital Farm Grants program

Page last updated: Friday, 13 September 2019 - 3:35pm

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Digital Farm Grants Program – Round 2

Applications for Round 2 of the Digital Farm Grants Program now open until Wednesday 4 December 2019.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (the department) is pleased to announce a second round of the Digital Farm Grants Program to expand digital connectivity in regional Western Australia that will create jobs and boost economic growth.

Round 2 aims to replicate the success of the inaugural round by encouraging  proposals from service providers to invest in communications infrastructure that will improve connectivity for more agribusinesses and communities across regional Western Australia.

An additional $2 million has been allocated from the Agricultural Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund for this grants program over the next two years.

Application

Up to $500,000 (GST exclusive) limit applies per application.

The base criteria of the program requires a $1 proponent contribution for every $1 of State funding requested. However, less than this amount in co-contributions from proponents is acceptable, providing proponents submit a clearly-documented case to justify the request. This potential concession is designed to encourage submissions that will serve more remote agricultural regions that are typically further from existing telecommunications assets and often less-intensively farmed. 

The department may provide information and referrals that could assist your project development activities during the application period. This includes information on farms and farming groups within a local area, and information on potential access to telecommunication infrastructures and/or its supporting infrastructure in your chosen project area, if available.

Grant funding will be provided to the proponent, nominated consortium or entity and can only be used for capital expenditures and development costs to improve connectivity to multiple agribusinesses and other potential stakeholders over a wide area nominated by the proponent.

As there will be a need to operate the telecommunication network after the project build phase, the proponent must be a licensed carrier under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Commonwealth).

Applications will be evaluated on the number of farming enterprises covered and the ongoing sustainability of the network as an operational commercial entity. As such, the applicant’s ability to attract other potential customers and investors; and ability to provide price competitive digital connectivity services, creating jobs will also be assessed.

Eligibility

Projects must be located within regional Western Australia as defined in the Regional Development Commissions Act 1993 (WA) - Schedule 1.

Projects must improve connectivity for farming businesses that are not currently serviced, or planned to be serviced by 2020, by the National Broadband Network fixed line or fixed wireless network, with an exception of a 20 percent overlap permitted.

Proposals must also not significantly overlap in areas being covered by the initial Digital Farm Grants Program with a 20 percent overlap permitted.

Proponents must demonstrate at least 10 agribusinesses are served in a proposal.

Co-investment from proponents is required, however the contribution ratio can be reduced – refer to section 3.1.4 of the Program Guidelines (see top right of this webpage).

Network proposed, at a minimum should provide a baseline download capability of 50Mbps and upload capability of 25Mbps at the customers' premises.

The proponent must hold a valid carrier licence under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Commonwealth), and thereby be authorised to provide carriage services to the public.

Additional Information

The Program Guidelines provide details on the application, eligibility criteria, assessment process, project management requirements and other relevant information.

Should an applicant be successful, a Financial Assistance Agreement will be executed between the applicant and the Department. A sample of the Financial Assistance Agreement template is provided for reference.

How to apply

The Digital Farm Grants Program - Round 2 is now open with applications closing on:

Wednesday, 4 December 2019 at exactly 5:00pm (AWST).

Applicants are encouraged to refer to the Program Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (see top right of this webpage), and contact the Program Officer/s prior to submission. Please note that the department is not liable for the advice provided.

You can lodge your application via the SmartyGrants portal: https://agric.smartygrants.com.au/DigitalFarmGrantsProgram-Round2.

Contact Us

For more information please call one of our Digital Connectivity team members on (08) 6552-2133 or (08) 6552-2032 for assistance.

All enquiries can also be emailed to: digital.farm@dpird.wa.gov.au.

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Background (2018)

The Digital Farm Grants Program is a State Government initiative to improve digital connectivity in regional Western Australia. It was first made available in 2018 through a $5 million round.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is currently working with recipients of the 2018 funding round to support the widespread adoption of digital farm technologies to help drive better digital connectivity for agricultural and pastoral businesses in regional Western Australia.

Grants of up to $500,000 were made available on a matching co-contribution basis to cover capital costs of improving connectivity to multiple farming enterprises and associated stakeholders.

The program aims to improve connectivity options for the agricultural and pastoral regions. These regions are usually serviced by nbn’s satellite service.

See the maps (at top right of this webpage) showing coverage of the first round recipients' projects.

More information about Round 1 and a list of receipients can be found below.

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Towers switched on (26 July, 2019)

The first 12 towers of the Digital Farm Grants Program in the Mid West have been completed!

Local company Logic IT Solutions was responsible for the installation of the towers, which are allowing Chapman Valley and North Midlands farmers to connect to enterprise grade broadband.

About 500 farmers can benefit from this service, which is offering speeds of up to 250 Mbps.

DPIRD's Digital Connectivity team at Geraldton hosted the Minister for Agriculture and Food Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC in July 2019, who officially switched on one of the towers in this Mid West network.

The State Government has invested $1 million towards this network, which has triggered an additional $1.5m in additional investment in cash and value-in-kind from Logic IT Solutions, the local shires and grower groups, helping local farmers stay globally connected.

The Digital Farm Grants program is a $5 million State Government initiative, administered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

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Round 1 recipients (20 November, 2018)

The State Government's Digital Farm Grants Program successful applicants have been announced.

One of the successful applicants is CipherTel, which will deliver two projects worth a combined $1 million in grants, extending services to 40 farming enterprises across nearly 1700 square kilometres encompassing Kununurra townsite, industrial area, Ord River South/ Central and Ord River North.

The Digital Farm Grants program is a $5 million State Government initiative, administered by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

As part of the State Government’s commitment to support the widespread adoption of digital farm technologies to help drive better digital connectivity for agricultural and pastoral businesses in regional Western Australia, grants of up to $500,000 were previously made available on a matching co-contribution basis, to cover capital costs of improving connectivity to multiple farming enterprises and associated stakeholders.

The fund targets agricultural and pastoral regions which lie outside the current or planned National Broadband Network (NBN) fixed wireless and fixed line footprints.

The program itself aims to:

  • provide fast, reliable, affordable and scalable broadband necessary to support digital farming practices
  • enable agricultural businesses to use smart farming technologies such as cloud based data sharing and decision making resources, improving productivity and output
  • target agricultural and pastoral regions which lie outside the current or planned NBN fixed wireless and fixed line footprint
  • expand mobile coverage, many farm businesses in areas of low population density are reliant on sub-optimal connectivity solutions
  • enable farming businesses to gain access to productivity enhancing technology which is a key element in making businesses internationally competitive
  • advance telecommunications and technology in the farming sector to drive the jobs of the 21st century across regional WA.

Grant recipients - Round 1

Under the first round of the Digital Farm Grants Program, $5 million was allocated to extend services through 11 projects to provide coverage for at least 1240 farms, covering 41,000 square kilometres. These projects are being delivered by five proponents in areas including the North Midlands, South West and Great Southern, as well as in the districts of Chapman Valley, Mount Barker, Wickepin, Goodlands and Kununurra.

Digital Farm Grant - Round 1 recipients

Applicant/Project

Grant

CipherTel
  • Kununurra Central
$497,065
CipherTel
  • Kununurra North
$500,000

CipherTel

  • Williams
$500,000

CipherTel

  • Wagerup/ Boddington
$491,000

CipherTel

  • Capel/ Busselton
$500,000

LogicIT

  • North Midlands - Fixed Wireless Network

$500 000

LogicIT

  • Chapman Valley - Fixed Wireless Network

$500 000

Pivotel Group Pty Ltd

  • Mt Barker - Pivotel Ecosphere Network

$277 500

Pivotel Group Pty Ltd

  • Wickepin - Pivotel Ecosphere Network

$277,500

Telstra / Shire of Dalwallinu

  • Goodlands

$260,000

Superloop (Australia) Pty Ltd

  • Great Southern

$500,000

 

The new services are expected to be rolled out in the next 12-18 months as the infrastructure is completed, providing more rural businesses and people living in the regions with a fast, reliable, affordable and scalable broadband service.