VFF urges Water Minister to continue to support farming communities
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has encouraged the Victorian Government to maintain its support for Northern Victorian farming communities dealing with Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
VFF Water Council Chair Andrew Leahy met with the Victorian Water Minister Harriet Shing last Friday in Shepparton to share the views of irrigators and farming communities.
“It was great to catch up face to face and discuss the morale amongst farmers following the floods as well as sharing our concerns with Basin Plan implementation by the Federal Government.”
“The Albanese Government’s decision to resume water buybacks last month has farmers and rural communities on a knife-edge.
“The VFF reiterated that less water for farmers will see less food being produced that will ultimately drive up the cost of living”.
“It was encouraging that Minister Shing acknowledged our concerns and reiterated that the Victorian Government remain opposed to water buybacks”.
Mr Leahy said he also discussed the recent independent expert report that looked at water supply demand by horticulture in the Southern Murray Darling Basin.
“The report clearly tells us that a repeat of the 2007-08 drought of just 993GL being supplied would see a catastrophic shortfall for permanent plantings given their demand is currently 1,128GL and could grow by 5,56GL to 1,684GL.”
This is important data for the Minister and her government to understand because it shows the impact that water buybacks will have in the next drought.
“We reiterated to the Minister that farmers are in the business of growing food, but we need water to do it,” Mr Leahy said.
“Governments need to remember that farming is the lifeblood of rural communities. Our decision to grow food leads to jobs in a range of industries. The local rural stores, fencing contractors, veterinarians, machinery suppliers, machinery technicians, earthmoving contractors, even the local teacher will be teaching children from farming families.”
“The VFF will continue to discuss our concerns with Minister Shing leading into the next Water Ministerial Council meeting which is likely scheduled for the middle of the year.”
“We also remain committed to hosting Federal Water Minister Plibersek in the region to highlight our concerns with the Basin Plan.”