Dairy

Katandra West farmer calls pricing forum “informative”

By Rodney Woods

Katandra West dairy farmer Paul Harry took part in Goulburn-Murray Water’s three-day Price Submission Customer Forum to learn how prices are set for use of the irrigation delivery system that his business relies on.

The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District’s delivery network is vital for growing pasture for his 250-strong herd.

But, until recently, Mr Harry was unclear how prices were determined.

“Everyone has their opinions on water but I really wanted to properly educate myself and understand regulations and legislation that informs pricing structure,” he said.

Run by an independent facilitator, Mr Harry said taking part in the summit in Echuca gave him the know-how he needed, describing the event as informative and inclusive.

The summit was part of a deep engagement process, reaching about 10 per cent of G-MW's customers during a two-year period.

The consultation informed G-MW’s Pricing Submission lodged recently with the Essential Services Committee.

After the summit, Mr Harry echoed most G-MW customers’ call for fairer prices to ensure the region is sustainable for decades to come.

He cited water-related matters as the greatest challenge he faces on his irrigated 200 ha property.

A 10 per cent drop in fees, as recommended by the submission, could mean around $5000 Mr Harry could reinvest back into his business each year.

“Adjusting to less water being available is absolutely the greatest challenge,” he said.

“This year’s dry conditions are disguised because we have received good milk prices so we can afford to buy in hay, grain and silage to cover for the summer.

“But buying grain and hay becomes unsustainable.

“If access to water is more affordable and equitable, it would significantly benefit the farm.

“I want to see a fairer break down of the infrastructure costing to better reflect who benefits from the system.”

Mr Harry said G-MW’s Pricing Submission was creating equitable pricing across the GMID and the proposal for uniform delivery charges would cement this.

The Essential Services Committee will deliver a draft decision on the submission in March 2020.

A final price determination will be made in June 2020, for implementation from July 1, 2020.

This will set fees and charges for the next four years from 2020 to 2024.

To comment on the pricing submission, visit: https://engage.vic.gov.au/water-price-review-2020/goulburn-murray-water-2020-water-price-review until January 24.