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    Murra Warra farmer and VFF president David Jochinke.

VFF makes plan to restore basin

Victorian farming’s peak body has slammed a Federal Government Murray-Darling Basin Plan and launched its own 10-point plan to restore the basin.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said the government’s plan was hurting farmers in the Murray-Darling basin – which extends into the Mallee and Wimmera regions.

He said the VFF’s 10-point scheme would help restore a balance between irrigated agriculture and the environment.

“As our farming communities endure another year of drought it is clear the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is failing to respond to the needs of irrigated agriculture and the environment,” he said.

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“Now is the time for all farmers to work together in fixing the basin plan to restore the balance between water for our farms, our communities and our environment.”

VFF Water Council chairman Richard Anderson said the federation’s plan provided solutions to major problems with the government’s plan.

“Current laws mean the basin plan and government cannot respond to what we have learnt since its inception,” he said.

“We have been left with a complex and rigid legal instrument that no politician is game to touch.

“The focus of fixing the Murray-Darling basin must be simplifying the legislation to give the whole community certainty.

“Farmers also need certainty over when the basin plan will end.

“Currently the legislation allows for a review in 2024 and more water recovery could start all over again. This simply has to change.”

The 10 points in the VFF plan are: simplifying laws; stopping water recovery in the southern basin; stopping water buybacks; no water recovery after 2024; building Lock Zero – a proposed lock above South Australia’s Lower Lakes; scrapping an additional 450gl of ‘upwater’ recovery; no flooding of private property; cleaning up the northern basin; creating a water market that works for all irrigators; and restructuring the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Mr Anderson claimed the VFF’s plan would be more equitable for farmers.

“We need a plan that will take into account the impact of water recovery on our farming communities as well as taking into account new science – like that of salinity in the Lower Lakes,” he said.

“We need a basin plan that promotes innovative projects to help restore the balance.

“New environmental projects that do not require more water should be implemented, especially if the 605gl in environmental offsets cannot be achieved.”

Mr Anderson said a forthcoming ministerial council meeting presented an opportunity for the basin states and Federal Government to show leadership.

“The message to government from the farming community has been made loud and clear,” he said.

“It’s time to show leadership and fix the basin plan by making it adaptable to our community’s needs.”

People can view the VFF’s 10-point plan by visiting website

The entire December 18, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire December 18,, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!