The VFF is calling on farmers to attend a water forum at Echuca on Thursday with Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville.
VFF president David Jochinke said the forum was a perfect opportunity to hear from Ms Neville on a range of issues, including updates on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the $2.1billion Connections project, and water trading.
‘‘Our water forum is open to all farmers, whether you’re a member or not, so we’re encouraging everyone who has experienced water issues to attend and have your say,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘Rural communities have seen significant impacts through the loss of irrigation water because of the basin plan, and this forum is a proactive step to involve the whole community in addressing concerns around water.’’
Ms Neville will give a presentation before joining Mr Jochinke on a panel to take questions from the audience.
‘‘We’re encouraging all farmers to come along and tell us about your water issues, but we also want to hear some fresh ideas for solving the problems,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
A major topic of discussion is expected to be the controversial developments surrounding the rollout of the basin plan.
‘‘We know how important water is to our irrigation communities and it’s vital that we do everything that we can to protect this important asset,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘It’s great to see both the Victorian and NSW governments working together to minimise the potential impacts of the basin plan on irrigation communities by reviewing the offset mechanism, and balancing environmental outcomes.
‘‘This forum is an opportunity for Minister Neville to give everyone an update on that process.’’
The VFF has been active in the basin plan debate, arguing strongly for environmental works and measures to be central in delivering environmental outcomes.
Mr Jochinke said there were a number of contentious issues that needed addressing, and urged the region’s farmers to stand up at the forum and be heard.
■The VFF Water Forum will be held at the Mercure Hotel’s Murray River Function Room, 465 High St, Echuca, on March 2 from 6.45pm.