Michael and sheree rennie

Meet Michael and Sheree, potato farmers from Deniliquin, and read how a zero water allocation could affect your supply of chips!

My name is Michael Rennie. My wife Sheree and I produce potatoes 25 kms east of Deniliquin. We have 4 children. We have been established here for 20 years growing potatoes for processing; currently supplying Smiths Crisps in Brisbane.

Our growing programme consists of 600 acres in the summer and 150 acres in the winter, producing around 11,000-12,000 tonne per year. We rely heavily on irrigation and allocation to maintain our long-term contracts, which go back for 40 years of supply. All irrigation is centre Pivot irrigation. In the summer months these run on a 24-hour basis.

To grow potatoes we use 2 ML to the acre producing around 15 to 18 tonnes per acre. Therefore, 1 ML will produce approximately 7–9 tonnes of potatoes per year, this equates to approximately 35 to 45 thousand packets of chips per ML of water!

We run around 120 cows and calves as well as growing Wheat, Barley and Lucerne. We employ two full time employees with around 17 casual workers during harvest from mid December to mid July.

The current irrigation allocation is affecting our business dramatically as to maintain our long-term contracts we are forced to buy temporary water at a severely inflated price, which also dramatically reduces the margin and return.

Remember to thank a farmer for every meal AND the snacks in between!

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