Ley: bor­row from en­vi­ron­ment

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

A lack of au­tumn rain has meant that win­ter crops are set to wither and die in the ground if ir­ri­ga­tors are not given en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter.

That was the mes­sage Fed­eral Mem­ber for Far­rer Sus­san Ley de­liv­ered to par­lia­ment as she out­lined the dire cir­cum­stances fac­ing NSW Mur­ray re­gion farm­ers.

The re­gion cur­rently has zero gen­eral se­cu­rity al­lo­ca­tion, with a con­tin­ued lack of rain only adding to farm­ers’ woes.

‘‘This is un­heard of; be­cause nor­mally au­tumn rains means you plant your win­ter ce­real crop, and by the time it needs wa­ter — per­haps in Septem­ber — you have a gen­eral se­cu­rity al­lo­ca­tion,’’ she said.

Ms Ley has been push­ing for more than two weeks for farm­ers to re­ceive wa­ter from the Com­mon­wealth En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter Holder and told par­lia­ment time was of the essence.

‘‘It is just plain ridicu­lous that, while th­ese crops are dy­ing, farm­ers are see­ing the wa­ter go­ing straight past their farms on its way down to where it is al­lo­cated a long way from them, or sit­ting in the stor­ages, which are rel­a­tively full, wait­ing for the en­vi­ron­men­tal al­lo­ca­tion that’s re­quired of it later on,’’ she told par­lia­ment.

‘‘We’re not talk­ing about months. We’re talk­ing about weeks dur­ing which we will see the crops die, and then the farm­ers that I rep­re­sent in this re­gion are look­ing at no in­come for 18 months.’’

The plan out­lined by Ms Ley in­cludes ‘‘bor­row­ing’’ from ex­ist­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter stor­ages in the Hume Dam and po­ten­tially the Bur­rin­juck Dam.

‘‘It’s re­ally im­por­tant that we solve this prob­lem for our farm­ers,’’ she said.

Mod­er­ate show­ers were fore­cast for Queens­land and NSW, but farm­ers said they ex­pected lit­tle re­prieve from dry con­di­tions as a re­sult.

Cli­mate out­looks for northern Vic­to­ria are favour­ing drier con­di­tions with below-aver­age rain­fall across the re­gion more likely from Au­gust to Oc­to­ber.

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