NSW Farmers Association, Media Release, 5 March 2021
NSW Farmers welcomes steps from Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt to end the Water Efficiency Program and the recovery of consumptive water from on-farm sources.
The Federal Government committed to move away from on-farm water recovery in the Murray Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) in September 2020. Minister Pitt’s announcement to end the Water Efficiency Program formalises this commitment.
NSW Farmers water taskforce chair Xavier Martin said the reform provides a greater level of certainty for farmers to invest in local food and fibre production.
“We have long been advocating for recognition that any further on-farm water recovery through the Water Efficiency Program will have profound disruptions to regional communities, and local food and fibre production,” Mr Martin said.
“The reinvestment of the $1.5 billion funding into off-farm water efficiency projects is a welcome refocus.”
“We thank Minister Pitt for listening to the communities and their real concerns that further on-farm water recovery will further damage the agricultural sector and regional communities. We now encourage the government to work closely with water users and communities throughout the ongoing water reforms.”
Mr Martin said a critical issue to address is to ensure that the MDBP is true to its terms of reference by remaining adaptive and flexible in how agriculture is protected while moving constructively forward to assist in improving the health of the basins rivers and ecosystems.
“We would encourage Minister Pitt to further engage with farmers to ensure there is no further reduction in allocations of water to our valuable farming businesses.”