Water projects win praise
THE head of Tasmania’s peak farming body says last week’s national drought summit shows Tasmania is on the right track when it comes to irrigation investment.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association president Wayne Johnston was one of the representatives at last week’s summit.
Mr Johnston said the state’s approach to drought-proofing and irrigation infrastructure was something many areas of the mainland could learn from.
“A lot of the delegates were actually surprised at how much money we’ve spent here on irrigation over the last 10 years or so,” Mr Johnston said.
“We do have some very dry areas on the East Coast at the moment . . . but the work that has gone on over the last 10 years has gone a long way to drought proofing the state.
“The only way to prevent drought is to have water and that means building dams or other infrastructure.
“I think some of the other state governments could probably do more when it comes to investing in major infrastructure like that.”
The Federal Government has now committed $3.9 billion to a Drought Future Fund, which will increase to $5 billion by 2028.
However, the Government has been criticised this week for scant detail about where the funding is to come from.
Some critics have dismissed the drought summit as nothing more than a talk fest.
“Was it a talk fest, in some ways yes, but I’m hopeful there will be some positive changes that come out of it,” Mr Johnston said.
The latest analysis by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Sciences presented at the drought summit shows this year’s eastern Australian cereal crop in the wheat and sheep zone is likely to be down by 53 per cent compared with the 20- year average.
In NSW the forecast is even worse, with predictions of a 65 per cent drop on the 20-year average.
Overall national winter crop production is expected to be down by 23 per cent.
The ABARES report says demand for grain and fodder has also put pressure on supplies which are now dwindling down to levels last seen during the 2006-2007 drought.