Country News

Farmers need water: SRI chair tells PM

By Alana Christensen

A frank discussion with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a reality check regarding drought conditions in the Murray Irrigation region according to Southern Riverina Irrigators (SRI) chair Gabrielle Coupland.

Speaking with Mr Turnbull on Friday, Mrs Coupland said the region currently found itself in a unique position of having crops in the ground with two possible outcomes likely.

"With water, we finish crops for grain, bulk them out for hay or grow pastures – all of which can ease the pressure of the drought," she said.

"Without water, we can watch those crops fail and we become part of the drought problem."

Mrs Coupland said she spent time discussing with the Prime Minister how people in the district had prepared for drought but how the continued dry means that farmers have to look at contingencies.

"I gave him a personal example about putting in 1.5kms of fencing in so we can start grazing off wheat and we’re working out which crops to irrigate with our small amount of water and which ones we might spray out so I highlighted the tough decisions we’re making every day," she said.

"He heard us and he understands that the best thing he can do is identify a parcel of water for irrigators."

SRI have been working with environmental water holders, river operators, Federal and State Governments and Murray Irrigation for over a month to find a parcel of water for this region to access immediately.

SRI's call for irrigators to receive access to more water comes after the Speak Up Campaign made a similiar plea, calling for irrigators to receive access to environmental water to grow 1.5 million bales of hay for drought affected farmers.

For more see next week's Country News.