Time to promote on-farm efficiency and adaptation

By Country News

Time to promote on-farm efficiency and adaptation

Victoria and NSW recently released ‘‘agreed socio-economic criteria to determine the requirements for any further water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’’ will unfortunately rule out almost all on and off-farm water efficiency projects in the southern basin.

Water efficiency projects offer regions opportunities to transition to future conditions, add to regional economies, and increase the resilience of rural businesses and communities.

The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District, as one of the oldest established irrigation regions, has many strengths including well-established processing, marketing and transport infrastructure.

These significant assets, together with well-established complementary industries, highly competent management and a capable workforce, make our region the envy of the basin.

One of the greatest risks our region faces is the failure of industries and irrigators to transition to contemporary and emerging management models that are a necessary adjustment to changing climatic conditions, water availability and industry competition.

This phase of change will take place one way or other as industries are forced to address climatic conditions, water availability and, in some cases, generational change.

Rather than defending current management practices and models our region should take the opportunity offered by the basin plan implementation to transition our farms and industries for the future.

An example of this opportunity has been the Connections project. This program, made possible the injection of $2billion into the GMID to transition an antiquated run-down irrigation supply system into an efficient system capable of servicing our region into the future.

Now is the time to promote on-farm efficiency and adaptation rather than just ‘‘let it happen’’ and have water continue to trade downstream to more efficient, productive and competitive industries.

On-farm efficiency programs have in the past decade played a vital role in assisting adaptation to changed conditions with many successful examples in the dairy and cropping industries.

Those concerned that on-farm programs will see water taken from our region should consider the alternative: unsustainable and unviable irrigation businesses selling water downstream to more profitable competitors as they close up shop.

—John Pettigrew

GV Environment Group president

and Environmental Farmers Network

water resources spokesperson

Two days’ notice for meeting is not good enough

The arrogance of the organisers of a Murray-Darling Basin Plan ‘consultation’ meeting has even surprised me this time, asking farmers and irrigators to make comments and submissions living in the Shepparton area with less than two days’ notice of a meeting.

This meeting MUST be moved to a date that gives at least two weeks’ notice.

Do the public servants think that farmers /irrigators and all the other interested parties have nothing else to do but can drop everything at two days’ notice?

Obviously they must have easier jobs than the rest of us.

—Heather du Vallon