LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Fearful for the dairy
industry’s future After 55 years of dairy farming in the Goulburn Valley, I am truly concerned for the remainder of the industry.
For 40 years we were able to utilise the plentiful water supply from the amazing man-made dams and water reserves.
It isn’t too often that challenges continue along such a detrimental path for more than a few seasons, or a few years, but for the past 15 years the overwhelming challenges have left many unable to cope.
Far from acceptable milk prices, another disaster; many generational farmers have left their lives on the land and many have lost their life.
The ‘succession planning’ that has been emphasised and encouraged in the past decade, has really become just a useless term.
The water that was once for our soldier settlers and the attraction which allowed our food bowl to flourish, has virtually disappeared, due to the asset being traded as a commodity.
Individuals and groups who have no physical need for water trading, other than to boost their wealth, have completely outpriced the asset to the extent that farmers cannot possibly afford to farm in a profitable manner.
The consequences extend into all country towns.
Population suffers, schools and small businesses suffer and close their doors. Many farmers cannot return a net profit, while they are keeping up with inflated debts.
The farms forced to sell have possibly sold off land to neighbours, some able to retain their home and some not.
The sale of livestock that may help reduce some debt initially, has then seen consequences — causing unproductive land to go to ruin, because there is no further income to spray and maintain the land, as it was intended.
Farmers pay for the water and infrastructure levies, regardless of whether they even get the water to use, or not.
Those who have been convinced they could survive on the temporary water system are also vulnerable to the availability and fluctuating market values, which also varies around four to five times its usual value.
Temporary water should not exceed $100/Ml.
Adequate and affordable water availability in spring could have saved many crops from failing.
In this year of drought, autumn irrigation will be imperative and, if not, will most certainly see the end for many more farmers. — Ron Baker
Numurkah Water management is
ruining farmers I have listened to the chief executive officer of the mighty Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Phillip Glyde, speak on ABC radio about the marvellous job they are undertaking in the management of the Murray River in our local region. Does he think we are all stupid? He told us there was not much water in the system for this year but fortunately I have a daughter who can read the MDBA website, which informs us there is still 78 per cent in Dartmouth, 80 per cent in Lake Victoria and 44 per cent in Hume — which represents nearly five million megalitres of water.
Mr Glyde went on to inform us we needed to make tough decisions about whether to plant a crop or not — it makes it so much easier as a ‘poor dumb’ farmer to be told we should stop what we are doing, put the crop back in the shed, sell our stock and pull our trees out.
We can agree on the one fact: when he told us the poor farmers who have general security water allocations on the NSW side of the Murray are still on zero.
When asked why there was such a difference between the states of Victoria at 89 per cent, South Australia at 100 per cent while NSW was on zero, Mr Glyde did his best work to convince us poor farmers that this was the way the rainwater fell into the catchments. I am sure the water sharing plan says a little different to that.
When asked why the MDBA was not being more transparent he assured us it was a very complex matter and depended on a lot of scenarios, was subject to state water rules and the distribution of a shared resource — clearly too difficult to work out for us poor farmers.
Unfortunately for you Mr Glyde, we can see the river is very full, so full in fact your people are taking no notice of the natural constraints, which is a requirement of the same MDBA rules you keep berating us about.
For nearly a month now you have been pushing about 15 000 Ml/day through the Yarrawonga Weir and you have 10 300 Ml/day trying to go through the Barmah Choke which has a maximum limit of 8500 Ml.
So nearly 2000 Ml/day are spilling into the forest to water it for the fourth time this year.
Your river operation is killing the red gum trees, poisoning fish, flooding people’s private land, drowning kangaroos and koalas and so far this year the mismanagement of this vital resource has starved at least 50 brumbies to death in the Barmah Forest.
I saw them with my own eyes, and I feel for them, because we are the same ‘collateral damage’ merely in the way of the MDBA’s grand plans to fill the lower lakes with fresh water.
This disgraceful ecological disaster is being carried out by the MDBA under the guise of ‘environmental flows’ and is being done to fill Lake Victoria, which is that full that 1500 Ml/day are running out the back of it and back into the Murray.
All the time there are at least three gates open at the barrages running this precious commodity out into the sea.
The mismanagement of our water is a despicable economic catastrophe and will become a political embarrassment.
The whole concept was drafted on lies from South Australia and flawed science which has since been totally discredited.
To expect the good people upstream of South Australia to be financially ruined is neither right nor fair and it is about time we all stood up together and marched in unison against this debacle that is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. — Bart Doohan