Halt to irrigation will be devastating: NFF

20th April 2007National Farmers Federation chief executive, Ben Fargher, says farmers are resilient, innovative people who are able to manage risk.

But Prime Minister John Howard’s announcement yesterday to halt irrigation in the Murray Darling Basin could devastate thousands, Mr Fargher says, along with the rural and regional communities dependent on irrigated agriculture.

Mr Fargher says high-security irrigators growing “tree crops” such as stone fruit, grapes, avocadoes, citrus and almonds, could take five, six or seven years to rebound.

“And there is so much infrastructure in regional communities that rely on those industries,” Mr Fargher said.

“I cannot underscore enough the potentially devastating impact that this announcement today and the prolonged drought will have on regional communities and the irrigation sector, the farm sector, in this country.

“People are going to be under considerable pressure.

“That’s going to impact on farmers leaving the land, on jobs in regional communities.

“It’s going to have a devastating impact.”

NFF will be seeking some exemptions under the irrigation ban for the watering of livestock.

SOURCE: Rural Press National News Service, Parliament House Bureau, Canberra.