The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has expressed disappointment in ABC’s Four Corners program after it failed to represent the full picture of irrigation and water management in the Murray Darling Basin.
QFF President Stuart Armitage said under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, there was a set limit on the amount of water that could be used for farming, with the fundamental purpose of the Plan being to further reduce this cap to a more sustainable level through water infrastructure programs.
“As a result of this cap, the total amount of water used by farmers does not change, regardless of the type of crops that are grown. And if the amount of water used on one farm increases from the purchase of water, the amount used on another farm must decrease from the sale of that water,” Mr Armitage said.
“Farmers will use their water allocation to grow the most profitable crops available to continue their business, support their families, employ local people and underpin regional economies.”
Mr Armitage said it was critical that government water policies were aimed at meeting environmental, economic and social outcomes.
“There is a general recognition that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has failed to achieve these social outcomes as evidenced by the devastation of many basin communities. For example, Dirranbandi has lost 27 per cent of its irrigated area while in St George, jobs in agriculture have dropped by more than 15 per cent and non-agriculture private sector jobs are down more than 20 per cent,” Mr Armitage said.
“The water infrastructure programs have provided much needed certainty for farmers and Basin communities so they can keep farming and support their local communities.”
“Born from compromise, the Basin Plan is the best chance to ensure we better manage a scarce resource, hold water for the environment while ensuring a sustainable level of consumptive take, and fairly address damaging socio-economic impacts.”