Water program slows down cropping

By Geoff Adams

The slow pace of approval under the water for fodder program has mystified a Kyabram farmer whose crop was placed in jeopardy by a delay.

Gino D'Augello won approval to buy subsidised water under the program, so he could grow a sorghum crop on 20 ha.

He got the news that he was approved and paid the $5000 on December 24, but did not get the water into his account until February 4.

He had to provide supplementary information on January 10.

He spoke to Country News early last week while waiting for the approval and expressed his concern that the delay could cost him the crop.

He had already spent about $15 000 on getting the crop into the ground.

He took his case up with Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum and approached Country News for assistance.

The water was transferred into his account without any notice last week.

The water for fodder program was set up by the Federal Government to allow farmers in the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin to apply for 50Ml parcels of water at a discounted rate of $100/Ml.

The federal department administering the scheme said 190 applications had been approved, but would not say how many applications had been rejected.

The process requires applicants who were conditionally accepted through the ballot process to submit paperwork to the department for review to verify their eligibility.

This review takes between two and 14 days and further approval required from the South Australia’s Department for Environment and Water to process the allocation trade into the farmer’s water account takes a further two to 10 business days.

The department declined to comment on individual cases.

Mr D'Augello was grateful the water had come through, but still wanted to know why it had taken so long.