Farmers ‘ready and waiting’ to help drought relief
August 5, 2018
Southern Riverina farmers are ready and waiting to help make a significant contribution to the nation’s drought effort.
All they need is some government and bureaucratic support.
Speak Up Campaign chair Shelley Scoullar said water from Dartmouth and Hume Dams should be made available so the region’s farmers can grow desperately needed fodder to help feed starving stock.
“We support all government efforts to provide subsidies and financial support to help out drought-stricken farmers,” Mrs Scoullar said.
“But what they need more than anything else is feed for stock. Our region is perfectly placed to grow fodder and help those who are in such a dire situation.”
Mrs Scoullar said Speak Up supports calls from Southern Riverina Irrigators for water to be made available to finish winter crops and potentially grow fodder for stock in drought areas of NSW and Queensland.
“The major storage dam, Dartmouth, is at almost 90 per cent capacity. At the moment water is being poured down the Murray River to South Australia, then out to sea.
“So effectively we’re letting fresh water flow out into the ocean instead of using it to mitigate the drought. Is that common-sense?” Mrs Scoullar asked.
She called on local politicians to get involved in the debate to help boost regional communities.
“We have a modern, efficient irrigation system that is among the best in the world in the New South Wales Murray region. Yet at present our food and fibre producers have a zero water allocation.
“Our hearts go out to the farmers who can do nothing but wait and pray for rain, and we would dearly love to help them out.
“But we can’t do anything because water reform under the Basin Plan has removed water away from production so that it can keep the Murray Mouth open. There is water in the dams, but under current arrangements we can’t access it”
Mrs Scoullar said if the Federal and State Governments genuinely want to help those suffering from the impacts of drought they should take immediate steps to allow some of the available water to be used in the NSW Murray for drought relief purposes.
“It’s not like the water is not there … as currently there is water flowing into the Millewa Forest which was also watered last year, along with 17 gates open at the barrages.
“All we want is access to some of the water being stored in the dams so winter crops can be finished, instead of ruined, and fodder can be grown to replenish dwindling supplies at a time of great need,” Mrs Scoullar said.
For further information or interviews: Shelley Scoullar phone 0414 960 785 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Caption: Speak Up Chair Shelley Scoullar with member Meredith Tasker in Canberra give away produce grown in the Murrumbidgge and Goulburn Valley