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Water options offer hope for farmerS

CEO of NSW Irrigators Council, Claire Miller. Photo Twh

The state’s peak farming group says the ‘NSW Alternatives to Buybacks Plan’ clearly puts the onus on the Albanese Government to avoid ruinous water buybacks.

The scrapping of important protections – designed to ensure towns and businesses would not be killed off as a result of buybacks under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan – had left farmers and rural communities fearful of widespread socioeconomic devastation.

NSW Farmers water spokesman Richard Bootle said the NSW Government’s ‘Alternatives to Buybacks Plan’ was a glimmer of hope that intelligent water recovery – rather than blunt buybacks – could be on the table.

“It is very encouraging to hear NSW Water Minister Rose Jackson say she wants the Basin Plan delivered in a way that minimises impacts on our regional communities,” Mr Bootle said.

“We know that every single megalitre of productive water can produce 51,000 potatoes, more than 57,000 apples, or a whopping 21,739 servings of rice.

“If more and more water is taken away from farmers we’ll see more and more pressure right through our national food supply chain.

“We’d like to thank the Minister for her intervention in this discussion.”

It was crucial to make sure productive water was still available to farmers, Mr Bootle said, something the Federal Government’s blunt buybacks didn’t consider. He was hopeful the state government’s alternatives would prompt smarter water work.

“If the Federal Government executes the rest of their planned buybacks and removes the total 690 gigalitres of water from our Basin, the loss in annual profits across irrigated cotton, rice, dairy, and horticulture is predicted to be in the range of $31.6 million,” Mr Bootle said.

“Just as concerning is the research from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, which has shown the federal buybacks could cause water prices to spike by $63 a megalitre.[…]

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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