Water offer from government

By Dairy News

Some of the region’s farmers are set to get some relief from dry conditions and high input costs with the Federal Government announcing 100 Gl of water will be released to grow feed.

However, those growing rice, cotton or fruit will be excluded from using the water that is part of a new drought stimulus package announced late last month.

Kaarimba irrigator Dudley Bryant said the minimum 25 Ml allocation for each farmer would give him a head start if no rain fell or allocation was provided.

“The biggest thing is government has done something,” he said.

“It’s a recognition there is a problem but we are long way from fixing it.

“It’s a good step. In our case 25 Ml will start up 25 hectares of annual pasture.”

Jerilderie rice, barley and oats grower Peter Burke questioned how successful the allocation would be.

“Divvying up that amount of water amongst 6000 irrigators is like giving someone one piece of chicken for tea when they need three,” he said.

“I haven’t seen any of these options that offer any long-term security for anyone.”

Mr Burke said he wasn’t normally a negative person but he wondered who was advising the government.

“In the millennium drought, under the Howard government, we could access interest-free subsidies capped at $100000,” he said.

“That wasn’t a complicated procedure and provided a real option.”

Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar questioned the practicality of the roll-out.

“It is great to see that state and federal governments can work together to provide solutions to the water crisis, a good step forward,” she said.

“Unfortunately the practicality in the roll-out of the 100 Gl will not provide the best results.

“Twenty-five megalitres per farm is not a lot and is not an efficient use of water.

“It would have been much better for the water to be distributed as an allocation, with an intra-valley pool established so that those who were not in a position to grow a summer crop could trade to those who were, especially dairy farmers.”

The Australian Dairy Industry Council has also welcomed the announcement.

In April, ADIC called on the Federal Government to use Australia’s six functional desalination plants in a move that would “deliver a permanent water supply for farmers, regional communities and environment”.

“It is fantastic to see the government listening to the needs of dairy farmers who are suffering from the impacts of drought and offering real solutions to the problems we face in securing water,” ADIC chair Terry Richardson said.