Speak Up

Mixed Emotions

By Shelley Scoullar

This week water filled the channel and flowed out into the paddock in preparation for rice sowing next week.

It’s my absolute favourite part of the year, I love the physical labour of preparing the paddock – like shovelling dirt etc, and the logistics as well – like coordination of contractors and managing the water so it fills efficiently and water isn’t wasted. Watching the bare earth change the second that the water flows onto the paddock has an amazing impact and I feel in sync with the earth and nature (I know it sounds crazy!).

This is what makes me who I am. Usually, I am untouchable and nothing can bring me down.

This year is different. As I have said many times before – I am one of the lucky ones. I have permanent water entitlements, I was able to carry water over from last year, which has ensured that I can plant a rice crop. But it is not the amount I would have liked to grow, I wanted to grow more.

This week we received a one percent increase in allocation, bringing NSW Murray to 30% - South Australia you might want to note has been on 100% for quite some time and both Hume and Dartmouth over 80% full. This meagre increase was partly due to the fact that NSW Murray need to repay 124 GL of water to the Barmah-Millewa environmental account, even though the forest was completely inundated last year and everyone knows that the forest doesn’t need watering every year.

I do hate bringing a sombre mood to a blog, as they are meant to be positive, informative, assertive and opinionated. But for those who do read my weekly therapy sessions, far out it has been a hell of a week! I am completely concerned about my future and the future of our region.

To be able to plan a summer cropping program we need access to water earlier and we need it to be affordable. The truth is we do not have water policy right, how can a young farmer get into the game with the uncertainty around water?

I know of farmers selling their allocation because they can make money more easily than planting a crop. Sure that water will eventually end up used somewhere, but in our region? Maybe not, on a crop that requires employing locals? Maybe not.

Or perhaps the grey cloud has been caused by my concern and frustration at the local, state and national politics at play, when we should all be focussing on the job at hand – ensuring that no more water leaves our region and finding ways to get more water on our farms, so that we can produce food and fibre for ourselves and for export, while at the same time driving our local and national economy and creating jobs. But for that to happen people would need to put communities and common sense above personal goals, and unfortunately there are too many horse deals and secrets for that to happen.

Next week can only be better!