Opinion

Call for VFF Water Council chair to resign

By Country News

By Geoff Kendell, Kerang

Dr Megan Appleby, Cohuna

Heather du Vallon, Cobram

Ken Wood, Byrneside

Bridget Goulding, Katunga

Perhaps it is time for VFF Water Council chairman Richard Anderson to stand down, because if there was ever any doubt he has lost touch with the industry it was highlighted in the Weekly Times (April 8).

In effectively refuting claims that poor water policy is threatening Australia’s food supplies, Mr Anderson has shown poor understanding of what is happening in our irrigation regions.

His claims SunRice “had been reliant on imports in the past” and that “we’re still producing enough food to feed 70 million people” totally miss the point that irrigation communities are trying to make about the threat to food supplies.

Quite simply, we are not producing volumes like we did in the past because there is insufficient water being allocated to food production. That is indisputable.

Has he not read recent reports from ABARES (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences) that paint an alarming picture of food production decline in recent years, which has been an ongoing trend during most years of Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation?

He should also take note of comments by SunRice chief executive Rob Gordon who said Australia was not able to meet its rice commitments due to drought and water supply issues crippling production.

VFF vice-president Emma Germano, responding to concerns about food security, stated “saying we’re going to run out of food is dangerous and stupid”.

That is a dangerous and stupid comment showing an ignorance to the present levels of waning staple food production in the north of Victoria.

She is not living our reality; no irrigation water means no food or fibre production.

No-one has said we are going to run out of food. What various organisations in irrigation communities are stating quite correctly is latest evidence shows that claims by our peak advocacy groups, echoed by their mates in the National Party, that we are growing enough food for 75 million people are false.

It may have been the case in the past, but with reduced water being made available for food production it is not the case any more.

The reason many farmers are so frustrated with our peak advocacy organisations and their leaders is their inability or refusal to adequately highlight the problems we are facing to our political leaders, perhaps because they want to be friendly rather than adversarial.

As a result, they are not getting the results our irrigation communities need.

Mr Anderson has consistently shown of late he is not effectively representing irrigators’ interests, which is why other advocacy groups are being formed to try and get our messages heard, with positive results.

He should resign, in the best interests of our irrigation farmers and the communities which heavily rely on Mr Anderson and others in similar positions to properly portray the present plight of our industry on our behalf with staunch representation that is fully researched and informed.