Food producers demand water changes

15 Oct, 2015 11:00 AM
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SPC  Ardmona is among the food companies calling for major water changes.
Primary producers can no longer access sufficient water at affordable prices to maintain production
SPC Ardmona is among the food companies calling for major water changes.

FOOD production businesses from Liberal MP Sharman Stone’s Northern Victorian electorate of Murray have taken their concerns over the Murray Darling Basin Plan to Canberra.

Representatives from some of Australia's biggest food brands including SPC Ardmona, Devondale Murray Goulburn, Kagome, Pactum and Fonterra attended meetings at Parliament House yesterday to highlight their concerns with the Basin Plan and demand changes to improve water trading rules with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH).

In a joint statement, they said the current Murray Darling Basin Plan had brought about, in perpetuity, $5 million to $6 million per day in lost food production.

They say primary producers can no longer access sufficient water at affordable prices to maintain production.

“This means more imported food, with less choice, food safety and employment,” the statement said.

“In 2006 in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) 1600GL was available for food production and manufacturing.

"In 2015 only some 1000GL remains with still more to be removed using the $1 billion in federal funding.

“We ask the federal government to immediately address the policies and regulations impacting food production and threatening manufacturing in the GMID.

“We acknowledge some require State cooperation.”

The group has issued a list of demands including:

  • The CEWH release onto the market immediately this season’s water not needed for the environment.
  • CEWH’s right to carry over unused water from one season to the next to be removed.
  • CEWH no longer to buy back water from irrigators using trading revenue, but instead it invests in further environmental works and measures and meets its own operating costs.
  • All past and future savings from Federal On-Farm-Water Use efficiency grants be placed onto the water market.
  • The corrupted, non-transparent, speculator driven water market to be immediately, independently and expertly investigated, then regulated.
  • In the interim, only those with irrigation delivery shares or diversion licences for primary production to participate in this tax payer-funded irrigation system generated water market.
  • The “Constraints Strategy” requiring a further 450GL to artificially flood assets and productive land six years in 10 to be replaced by investing the $1.77 billion in engineering solutions to generate the lower Murray outcomes listed in the Special Account Water Amendment Act 2013.
  • Any further reduction in the irrigation footprint and removal of irrigation water from the GMID to cease immediately and the $1 billion in federal funding for this project to be re-evaluated.
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    Colin Bettles

    Colin Bettles

    is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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    READER COMMENTS

    Dugong Scrapers Walsh Shed
    15/10/2015 1:46:37 PM

    What makes those ideas so good? Giving back permanent water allocations to stakeholders will only give the foreign investors more for nothing. Sold your water, spent your money, now cry foul.
    Dugong Scrapers Walsh Shed
    15/10/2015 1:54:28 PM

    Could of mentioned the extra land developed for irrigation and why the water does no go round as it did previously in 1920.

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    COMMENTS

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    Sorry did i get it wrong..? Rankins Springs is still open..?!
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    No doubt a few frosted Freddies out there who will wish they had taken a closer look at the AGC
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    Matthew, I was wondering if you had followed up this story with the farmer after the whole