Water needed to protect Australia's food security during pandemic

12 April, 2020
Water needed to protect Australia's food security during pandemic Image

The NSW Government must ensure irrigated food producers get a water allocation this season, to protect the nation’s food security, says SFF Murray MP Helen Dalton.

“The lack of rice on supermarket shelves this week is a dire warning,” says Mrs Dalton

“We are facing an uncertain 18 months of restricted trade and travel,”

“We need to be producing rice, dairy, wheat and other food staples here in Australia, and not relying on unstable imports from foreign countries in lockdown.”

Mrs Dalton says simple rule changes from the NSW Government can provide farmers with a water allocation this season.

“NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro has called on the federal government to provide water for farmers.

“This is Ruby Princess-style buck passing”.

“In actual fact, his own government controls the tap for many NSW farmers. And he’s turned the tap off for the last two years”.

“In two years of zero allocation on the Murray River, our rice and dairy farmers have gone to the wall”.

“Barilaro’s government can provide them with water with the stroke of a pen”.

For one, his government could return so-called ‘voluntary contributions’ to farmers.”

“Irrigators gave up a fixed percentage of their water entitlements in 2002, during wet times.”

“Given the current dire situation, the NSW government should return this water to farmers now to guarantee food production,”

“Secondly, when water is sent downstream – natural water losses, like evaporation and seepage, are currently subtracted from farmers’ productive water allocations.”

“This can be re-classified to ensure farmers get this water”.

Mrs Dalton has been calling for such changes for more than two years, but says her calls can no longer be ignored in the current pandemic.

“These sensible changes would not harm the environment. But they would make a world of difference to broke farmers and our nation’s food security”. 

 

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