National Farmers' Federation

MDBA cuts massively understated: NFF

NEW analysis by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) exposes the savage reality of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA’s) guide to the Basin Plan, with proposed cuts to water for food production slashing deeper than the Authority is letting on.
“Having crunched the numbers over the last few days, the actual amount of water available for food production in NSW could be cut by up to 89% in some areas – much deeper than the MDBA led us to believe last Friday,” NFF President David Crombie said.
The initial NFF modelling – covering NSW, with Queensland, Victoria and SA to come – takes the available information on new sustainable diversion limits released by the MDBA last week, then applies an analysis of the way the NSW Government may roll them out, assigning and deducting water for specific needs (including town water, conveyancing, etc.).
“Once you factor in how the states go about implementing the proposed cuts, the water leftover to produce food could reduce to a trickle,” Mr Crombie explained. “We are looking at cuts in some water products in the Murrumbidgee of up to 75%, in the Murray 60%, in the Lower Darling 43% and in the Lachlan 32%.
“Based on the MDBA’s proposals Australia will be scraping the bottom of its food bowl. These regions would be belted, with the spillover impact to jobs – such as transport, processing and businesses – potentially crippling the Basin economy. We’re not just talking about regional towns and local economies… it will affect all Australians, every household.
“Compounding farmer anger is that the Authority’s cuts could be reduced if water-saving environmental works were factored into its modelling. That the MDBA hasn’t done this work begs the question: ‘what has the Authority been doing for 18 months?’
“Instead of detailing water needs in the Basin, assessing its availability and exploring a range of options to achieve sustainable delivery, the MDBA opted for an equation based on traditional flows… a methodology that belies the seriousness of the issues confronted by all in the Basin – be they irrigators, environmental assets or regional communities.
“No-one affected by these proposals – not farmers, environmental groups, regional communities or the general public – can be satisfied with what the Authority has served up, and we’re unequivocal that Federal Water Minister Tony Burke must now intervene to ensure the Authority gets it right and there is balance in this Plan.”
The NFF is currently compiling data for Queensland, Victoria and SA to get the real picture on what the MDBA’s proposals mean for farm production in each state. In the meantime, the full NSW data, released by the NFF today, is available below.

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