AFFORDABLE and sustainable water for agricultural production is once again shaping up as a major election issue.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation president Stuart Armitage said for farmers to continue producing world class food, fibre and foliage the state must properly plan and allocate water for agricultural production, particularly in a changing climate.
Current challenges include a lack of water for growth in some of the state’s most highly productive agricultural areas, planning decisions and electricity costs undermining the viability of some schemes, through to rising groundwater, he said.
“Queensland farmers are among the most efficient and productive users of water in the world, and water is the lifeblood for more than 5500 irrigated farm businesses,” Mr Armitage said.
“Water creates opportunity – for both farmers and for the businesses in the towns that service our sector.
“Agriculture is responsible for the management and use of 60 per cent of the state’s water. However, the management, planning, regulation, modelling, quality, and critically, pricing of agricultural water is spread across five departments and ministerial portfolios.
“We need to get access, pricing, governance and administration of agricultural water right if we are to take advantage of the growing demand from domestic and international markets for high quality agricultural products.”
QFF is advocating:
- Commitment to affordable bulk water prices for SunWater and SEQWater schemes and provision funding for QFF to contract specialists to ensure irrigated agriculture can meaningfully respond to the pending pricing investigations.
- Developing a regulatory mechanism to facilitate future access to reserves in existing Water Plans which have set strategic water for future planning projects.
- Facilitating temporary water trading.
- Commit to greater protection for irrigation infrastructure.
- Commiting to machinery of government change to align agricultural water within the agriculture portfolio.