4 August 2023

Government calls for feedback for On Farm Connectivity Program initiative

| Andrew McLaughlin
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OFCP, farmer

The Government is calling for feedback on the OFCP draft guidelines by 23 August. Photo: Dept Infrastructure.

The Commonwealth Government is calling for public consultation on draft guidelines for its On Farm Connectivity Program (OFCP) designed to improve equipment connectivity, health and safety, and support sustainable resource management for primary producers.

Announced in October 2022 as part of the Government’s $1.1 billion Better Connectivity Plan, the $30 million OFCP will look to offer rebates of up to $30,000 to suppliers of a range of technologies required to improve connectivity for primary producers.

These technologies include external antennas, boosters and repeaters, gateways and routers, and portable hotspots, all of which improve coverage. These devices can help optimise productivity through equipment such as soil moisture probes, microclimate and weather monitors, water quality and water flow monitors, plant growth monitors, valve and irrigation controllers, and livestock monitoring systems.

Connectivity solutions will allow the communication between devices that support agricultural activities via the internet through one of four categories of connectivity solutions: Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), cellular, satellite, and Wi-Fi.

The government says it is committed to ensuring our primary producers have the support that they need to access cutting-edge connected technology to boost productivity and global competitiveness.

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“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 for Communications, Michelle Rowland said in a 2 August release.

“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.”

The program’s objectives include to extend digital connectivity and enable primary producers to take advantage of advanced farming technology, to enhance a primary producer’s ability to implement digital agribusiness solutions, to capitalise on the agricultural sector’s productivity and growth, and to support access to new communications equipment and services by offsetting some of the cost.

The consultation process follows an initial canvassing of industry interest in late 2022 for the supply of connected machinery and connectivity equipment for primary producers, which resulted in more than 80 applications from suppliers.

Suppliers that are selected will be included on a list of eligible suppliers of equipment for the OFCP. They can sell their equipment direct to the primary producers, with an appropriate discount passed onto the buyer to be equal to the rebate they will receive from OFCP.

Consultation on the program’s draft guidelines closes on 23 August, and submissions can be made via this webpage.

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