With 50-100mm of rainfall forecast across the southern basin in the next few days and dams already full to overflowing, water allocators need to start thinking outside their conservative box.
“The agriculture sector has continued to power Australia’s economy during these difficult times. The resilience of the regions is showing strongly. Now is the time for regulators to be as supportive as they can,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
Mr Mahar said farmers were making decisions now about what crops to plant next season and needed greater surety about allocations than they currently had.
“General security water allocations are hovering below 50% and growers want to see that rise significantly. They should reasonably expect allocations of 110% (carryover plus this year) so they can plant expansive crops and take advantage of positive seasonal conditions.”
“For too long allocations have been delayed, apparently based on a risk averse approach. While there are rules and protocols, irrigators want it recognised that they are taking the risk and want to see a bit more of an adventurous approach to allocations.
“The time for making planting decisions is now, crops can’t be planned based on potential future allocations.
“Crops like rice and cotton and fodder users like dairy will all benefit from greater, and early clarity on their options leading through the spring into summer.”
The NFF is calling on water allocators to make seriously considered and courageous decisions to continue to support farmers and the bush communities that depend on them.
“Agriculture is set to tally $73 billion in farm gate value this financial year. Additional certainty on allocations would provide farmers the confidence they need to sow another bumper crop and move the farm sector ever closer to the $100-billion-by-2030 target.”