Ley: borrow from environment
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.