No water is ‘killing us’

By Rodney Woods

The impacts of zero allocation and water policy was evident at Finley’s Australian Dairy Plan workshop.

About 90 per cent of the 20 people who attended said water issues needed to be fixed if the industry was going to thrive in the southern Riverina.

‘‘The number one issue is water and getting a more workable Murray-Darling Basin Plan and better working of the river by the MDBA (Murray-Darling Basin Authority),’’ Finley farmer Kristen Clark said.

Fellow Finley farmer Peter Middlebrook said the zero water allocation had a big impact on his business.

‘‘The biggest concern in this area is water,’’ he said.

‘‘This is the best place to milk cows in Australia, here in Finley.

‘‘We have fantastic farms that are well set out; the only thing we need is water and that’s what’s been killing us — we have no water.

‘‘It’s (zero allocation) cost me $1000 a day. It’s just not sustainable.

‘‘I’m ready to give it away but I’ve got a young bloke who’s back from uni and wants to have a go and we are willing to support him.

‘‘If things don’t turn around we’ll be one of the others that exit.’’

Mr Middlebrook was not the only farmer who said allocations had impacted on the bottom line.

‘‘It’s had a huge financial impact on my partner and I,’’ Deniliquin farmer Rachael Napier said.

‘‘We’ve had to budget the purchase of water out of our cash flow and that’s meant that creditors have been put on hold.’’

While water was the main talking point, the farmers in the area also discussed improving the industry’s image and hoping for targeted research and development for the region.

Ms Clark said one of her priorities was for the industry to jump on the front foot when it comes to social licence.

‘‘We just need to be more proactive,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s more of a focus on the industry and animal agriculture and I think we need to address any issues that may exist in the industry before animal activist groups put a spotlight on it.’’