While the Murray Valley is finally off zero allocation, 4% only equates to 34.9 GL to our irrigation district, before the implementation of the Basin Plan and 2000GL leaving productive irrigation that would have equated to 48GL.
The Brooks Family farm 3000ha of mostly irrigated cropping country including wheat, canola and corn crops between Barooga and Mulwala. Here is their story and how a low allocation affects them.
This year we invested in the development of turning 400ha of dryland country into irrigated farm land, with the intention of irrigating winter and summer crops. This increases productivity and allows us to employ more people and spend more money in our local economy.
Currently we employ 6 people on a full time basis who all shop and live locally.
This winter it’s been raining a lot. The crops around the area are green and gold and there has been mud at every shop entrance in town. This is good news for farmers. So why does low water allocation leave irrigation farmers feeling sick to their stomachs?
Imagine if you were at home cooking a Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Your family worked hard to buy a new, efficient oven. You have invested in high quality ingredients, you have spent time preparing the meal and the extended family are coming around for dinner. Suddenly, there’s no gas, there’s no power, there’s no dinner. Your oven is sitting idle, your ingredients are wasting away and you wonder how you will feed the family. You are an irrigation farmer, with no water.
Irrigation farmers within the Murray Irrigation system thought they would be farming with irrigation water this year. They are not idiots. They were under this impression because they pay year in year out to have access to irrigation water. They pay to have this security blanket tucked around them at night. Water security means that crops will definitely reach their potential, the proverbial hot meal will be served.
Decades ago, people like my grandfather and great uncles used brute force and horses to build an irrigation system to create this highly productive district known as the Southern Riverina. Fast forward to 2015. We have all the technology in the world to efficiently and responsibly water food crops so that we, the farming families, can feed people. But the intelligence of food production is also burdened with the incompetence of bureaucracy and there lies the problem.
If you want to be well fed then you need to be well watered.