Fresh calls for water allocations

By Country News

NSW Murray Valley farmers cannot go into another year with a zero water allocation.

That is the clear message from NSW Farmers Bunnaloo branch, which says ‘‘something must be done to ensure our food bowl is sustainable, rather than becoming an unsustainable dust bowl’’.

Chairman Richard Ham said the branch was calling on the NSW Government, its water agencies and politicians from all sides to ensure NSW Murray Valley farmers with irrigation water entitlements are treated fairly and are allocated a share of any water available from the Murray River in the upcoming 2019-20 season.

‘‘While the latest drought package does provide some relief in the form of waiving fixed water charges and LLS rates, farmers cannot go into another year with a nil allocation of general irrigation water,’’ Mr Ham said.

‘‘The nil allocation this season has left farmers deeply concerned at how they will meet expenses, particularly overhead costs over which they have no control and which forever seem to escalate.

‘‘Our members are saying that something must be done.’’

Mr Ham said without water, farms were unable to produce an income to cover costs and living expenses and produce local food and fibre.

‘‘No income makes it very difficult to invest and further improve productivity to help feed our nation and others,’’ Mr Ham said.

‘‘In the current 2018-19 year, both South Australia and Victoria had significant water allocations from the Murray River, while from the same river for the same purpose, NSW had zero.

‘‘Farmers in NSW simply cannot afford a repeat of that situation in 2019-20.

‘‘In light of several recent reports that have not been favourable for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and shown it to be not working, it is time that our elected representatives took the lead on a critical regional issue and ensured farms on the NSW side of the Murray River receive an equitable share of available water.

‘‘Flaws in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, in particular the effective exclusion of South Australia’s Lower Lakes and the Coorong diversion from the plan, require an immediate review.’’