Labor’s Basin plans will result in higher food prices, farmers warn

The Albanese Government’s proposed changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan will shut down farms, destroy jobs and increase the price of food for all Australians.

Four of the country’s largest agricultural bodies – the National Farmers’ Federation, NSW Farmers, AgForce Queensland and the NSW Irrigators’ Council – have joined forces to warn the Government is going far beyond the original 2012 Plan that sought to balance environmental, social and economic wellbeing.

NSW Farmers President, Xavier Martin, said the rewrite of the Plan ignores the social and economic impacts of further water buybacks, which will sign the death warrant for many communities at the taxpayers’ expense.

“Less water available for consumptive use means less food and fibre production, which will ultimately lead to declining towns and higher cost of living for all.”

President of the National Farmers’ Federation, David Jochinke said it didn’t make sense to pursue buybacks when there was a long list of options to improve river health without devastating Australia’s food bowl.

“We had environmental experts, farmers and governments all on the same page with the Basin Plan, now that is down the drain thanks to the Government’s tunnel vision on buybacks.

AgForce CEO, Mike Guerin, called for a minimisation of the socio-economic impacts on irrigation dependent communities from recovery of water and for the involvement of primary producers and local communities in the decision-making.

“Accomplishing a Basin Plan that successfully balances environmental and socio-economic outcomes for irrigation-dependent Basin communities requires a strong local consultation process and for governments to respect and respond to those views.”

NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller said the Plan’s enhanced environmental outcomes can be delivered in a way that does not resort to buybacks.

“At this point, extra water recovery is just a political stunt and will only serve to deliver numbers on a page. Punishing farmers and regional communities that depend on the economic activity generated by agriculture just doesn’t make sense.

“Rural communities deserve to know the modelling behind government plans. Buybacks must be avoided and the Bill in its current form cannot be supported.” Ms Miller said.

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