Helping thirsty farms

By Rodney Woods

A passionate Goulburn Valley resident and long-time Kyabram dairy farmer is calling on farmers to help irrigators stressed by exorbitant water prices.

Chris Hunter is calling for expressions of interest from farmers who would be willing to sell water for $200/Ml or less, rather than the figure they could sell it on the market.

‘‘I’m terribly sad for farmers having to irrigate when the cost of water is exorbitant at around $500 (per Ml) and it’s just unsustainable,’’ Mr Hunter said.

‘‘Grain and hay prices are so high, so my aim is just to plead to people that might have anything as low as 5Ml that they would be prepared to sell to another farmer for $200 (per Ml) and really $200 (per Ml) is, in a good season, unsustainable really.

‘‘So I’m playing on people’s goodwill and their passion for the district.

‘‘I love the district and I love the Goulburn Valley and the food bowl, which is looking very dismal at the moment, and I know the dairy farmers, in particular, are finding it extremely tough and many are leaving the industry,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to be able to get a pool of maybe 1500 or 2000 megalitres from kind people who are prepared to give anything from 5Ml to 50Ml at $200 (per Ml).’’

Mr Hunter realised it might be hard to build such a pool with farmers being able to sell their water for much more, but said if the farming community did not come together things could get worse before they got better.

‘‘By helping each other we’re lifting the issues that are dragging us down in this district,’’ he said.

‘‘If everyone wants $500 (per Ml) it’s only hurting the farmers, which is going to have a ripple effect as it will hurt the community, it hurts the businesses and it hurts me (as a passionate local).’’

A new ABA will be set up and Mr Hunter is on the lookout for water donations, but when it comes to deciding who receives the water is where the whole situation gets difficult.

‘‘That’s going to be hard,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m going to have to ask the community just to trust me. I know there will be miles too many people in need.

‘‘It’s just going to be up to those that are in my face or that I know, sadly.

‘‘I would hope I would be able to help farmers get 30Ml for $200 (per Ml) and I expect the buyer to pay the transfer fee of $65.’’

One person who could benefit from the idea is Kyabram farmer Arjan Prins, who is unsure how he will pay for inputs past June 30.

‘‘The way it is, I will make it through the season but from July 1 it is unknown,’’ Mr Prins said.

‘‘Nothing is cheap. All inputs are out of control.’’

Mr Hunter has advice from Kyabram lawyers and the new ABA will be audited.

■If you have excess water and want to help out, phone Chris Hunter on 0409 670 673.