Meeting drops plans for new irrigators’ group

By Country News

Concerned farmers, business owners and agricultural stakeholders decided they would not form a new committee to represent the Shepparton irrigation region, at a Katandra meeting on March 11.

Instead, they will join with the Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities group.

A sense of urgency was pressed on all attendees who wished to join NVIC, to do so before the upcoming annual general meeting on Thursday, April 23.

Benjeroop irrigation farmer Lindsay Schultz said he would advocate for irrigators at the NVIC annual general meeting.

“I will join NVIC and will have discussions on key issues that affect all irrigators,” he said.

All hands rose in favour of a proposed motion that would create discussion groups focusing on issues across different regions.

These issues would then be presented to, and further pushed by, NVIC.

The meeting was led by retired farmer Barry Croke, from Kialla, who said the convergence was a positive decision.

“It (the outcome) will be about how NVIC organises itself, you have to have good people who understand governance,” he said.

Mr Croke said NVIC needed more members, as membership had plummeted from 800 when the body was first created in 2002, to about 200 current members.

Murray Plains Environment Floodplains Group member Russell Crichton, from Cohuna, said he hoped the merging of the groups would create a singular, powerful voice for farmers.

“Dairy farmers are leaving the area, shops are shutting, towns are suffering, farmers’ mental health is being affected and the environmental impacts are shocking,” Mr Crichton said.

“We're hoping to get the numbers together to get the government's attention.”

NVIC member Danny Bergamin, from Waaia, agreed that irrigators needed a sole body to take on water issues.

“If it's from communities, there's more chance of having community outcomes, rather than corporate outcomes,” he said.

NVIC's key goal at the moment is to take action in regard to ministerial responses to Murray-Darling Basin water resources interim inspector-general Mick Keelty's report, due on March 31.

To become a member of NVIC, request a membership form by emailing