Crops left high and dry
MORE than 250 irrigators from the Darling Downs met at the Swan Creek Hall, east of Warwick, to discuss new irrigation restrictions.
The restrictions were imposed on July 1 and limit un-metered ground water irrigators to pumping between 5pm and 5am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
A motion to immediately revoke the restrictions received a unanimous vote from the crowd, and more than 200 of those in attendance signed a petition for Member for Southern Downs James Lister to present in Parliament.
Mr Lister said he had written to the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy expressing his concern about the lack of community consultation and notice.
The Minister responded, writing that the department met with a number of communities and apologised
We had to forward contracts to supply our customers for 12 months.
— Haydn Lamb
for not engaging with Glengallan and adjacent southern valleys.
Killarney farmer Haydn Lamb said he received notice Wickham Farms would have to restrict irrigation just two days before he was expected to implement changes. The restriction would see his young onion crop frozen from overnight watering or dead from the dry, but a failure to comply would have incurred a fine of more than $60,000.
“We had the rug pulled out from under us,” he told the crowd.
The farmer said the abrupt change could have a long-lasting, detrimental impact on the Southern Downs economy.
“We had committed to forward contracts to supply our customers for 12 months,” he said.
“We are relying on that crop to get through our process room so our staff have jobs come Christmas time.
“If we lose our contract with our good customers there’s 40 jobs gone and directly, through our farming business, that’s 85 jobs gone.
“At the moment, in a district like this, we need every bit of employment we can possibly get.”
If farmers choose to install a meter on their bore, pumping is still subject to the nominal percentage of their water entitlement per year, ranging from 50 per cent to 80 per cent.
With metering becoming mandatory by 2025, a Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy spokesman said the department was working to “implement a metering program” which would require all irrigators to install meters “up to manufacturers’ requirements”.
DNRME said fines of up to $62,275 could be enforced for irrigators who breach the restrictions. If irrigators or farmers have questions, contact the DNRME Toowoomba office on
(07) 4529 1394 or the Warwick office on
(07) 4661 0200.
RESTRICTIONS: Haydn Lamb’s young onion crop would be frozen if Wickham Farms adhered to new un-metered irrigation restrictions, limiting growers to water two nights a week.