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National Farmers' Federation

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The NFF has been highly engaged in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, from the development of the Water Act in 2007 through to the finalisation of the Basin Plan at the end of 2012. The Plan, developed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), had two concurrent aims: reducing existing water allocations in the Basin in order to increase environmental flows.

The NFF advocating strongly for farmers throughout the development of the Plan. Through our leadership, the NFF was recognised as the key national voice for farmers on this issue. We worked closely with our Members and other aligned groups such as the National Irrigators’ Council and NSW Irrigators’ Council to ensure we maintained a strong, consistent voice.

The Plan was, and remains, of concern to farmers for a number of reasons, but primarily because it fails to balance the social, economic and environmental needs of the Basin Plan region and communities. The areas of particular concern to the NFF include the Sustainable Diversion Limits and the potential impacts on rural communities if the Government resorts to purchasing entitlements.

The NFF strongly fought for the amount of water set to be removed from food and fibre production to be reduced, and for water to be returned to the environment via water efficiency measures (such as infrastructure and environmental works and measures), rather than through water buybacks. Although the final Plan remains flawed, the advocacy organisation achieved significant wins in both areas. The NFF was also responsible for the Commonwealth implementing an on-farm water efficiency project which has led to $450M allocated to improve farm irrigation infrastructure and efficiencies – which has been a resounding success.

With the Basin Plan passing into law at the end of 2012, the focus now shifts to the complex arrangements for implementation. The NFF continues to advocate that the implementation of the Plan must seek a balance between the environment, and the social and economic needs of the Basin.

To view the NFF’s Murray Darling Basin Plan Policy: click here

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