Water reforms critical in COVID 19 response  

NSW Farmers is calling for urgent changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan as the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic highlights the importance of agriculture in Australia. 

Backing calls from Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Water Minister Melinda Pavey, NSW Farmers says the Plan needs to be re-worked to better balance communities, economies and the environment. 

“While our food security is in a strong position thanks to farmers across NSW and the country, there are farmers in the Southern Basin who cannot grow food crops due to zero water allocation,” NSW Farmers President James Jackson said. 

“Our position has always been that the Plan is having an unreasonable and unsustainable impact on the agriculture sector and the rural and regional communities that depend on farming.”
“A root and branch review of the impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on food production is well overdue and we are asking the NSW Government to call for a Royal Commission to investigate whether there is a better way of balancing food production with environmental outcomes.”

“It is simply not going to be possible to remove a further 450GL from farmers without decreasing food production.”

Mr Jackson said while the Water for Fodder Program has provided a small water parcel to some fodder producers, many other agricultural industries within the Southern Murray Darling Basin are facing continuing no or low general security water allocations and high water prices. 
“This has significantly impacted many industries such as rice, dairy, grains, horticulture, poultry and livestock. Due to the drought and water policy, Australian rice crops in the last two years represent less than 25 per cent of annual domestic rice consumption.” 

“The urgency to change this situation is greater than ever. It is an exceptional circumstance and we must look at all options to boost local food production through these unparalleled times.”
“NSW Farmers urges the Federal and State Governments to consider alternative options to maximise water availability. There are solutions in the form of changes to water policy that will further enhance our food security at this critical time.”

Date: Tuesday, 14 April 2020 
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au