February 17, 2020
Farmers – already struggling with government policies, energy prices and natural disasters – now face higher water costs after the release of the latest pricing report, the Queensland Farmers Federation says.
The Queensland Competition Authority’s Rural Irrigation Price Investigation 2020-24 final report was released last week following an examination of water prices in SunWater and SEQWater irrigation schemes across the State and determined new prices for irrigators for the next four years.
QFF CEO Dr Georgina Davis said the report dismissed farmers’ concerns and provided little clarity for farmers who will be hardest hit by the price recommendations put forward.
“The report investigates the inclusion of dam safety upgrades in the water pricing pathway which could leave irrigators contributing up to 80 per cent of what would be very large expenditures for these upgrades,” Dr Davis said.
“QFF’s policy on this unacceptable cost is clear – dam safety associated with government-owned and built infrastructure is a community responsibility and provides no additional benefit to farmers, therefore they should not be expected to contribute to dam safety upgrades.
“In fact, it runs the risk of making water so expensive that we see a wide-scale disconnection of farmers from irrigation schemes and a return to lower-productivity, dryland farming in some areas.
“Additionally, irrigation schemes face significant variation in water price increases to maintain scheme assets, rising electricity and insurance costs as well as the impacts of lower water demand forecasts.
“At a time when there is such uncertainty regarding water security and access throughout the agriculture sector, the QCA has chosen to ignore farmers’ concerns about their ability to pay for water and the future productivity and profitability of their businesses by only raising more questions than answers.”