FLASHBACK: A peanut break crop being dug in the Bundaberg region … water uncertainty is making cane growers rethink their plans, according to industry representatives

September 27, 2021

Uncertainty over the future of Paradise Dam is causing peanut growers in the Childers and Bundaberg regions to rethink planting their next crops.

Canegrowers Isis chairman Mark Mammino said the the lack of direction for the future of the water storage was adding insult to the injury of the region’s drought and pushing the impact into 2022 and beyond.

He called for the 50 per cent water price rebate being offered by the State Government for horticulture crops to be extended to other irrigated crops.

“We are trying to farm in continuing drought conditions with only 22 per cent of our water allocations available to use in the Paradise part of the irrigation scheme,” Mr Mammino said.

“Even though only 22 per cent of the water is available, we still have to pay the high fixed charges on the total nominal allocation no matter what is available for use.

“The Queensland Government could show some compassion and provide us with immediate financial relief by making its inequitable water price reduction policy fairer and extending the 50 per cent rebate to all crops.

“It’s so frustrating that we have excellent sugar prices but not the water to get the most out of our cane crop this year or next, because now is when the young cane should be getting a start for 2022.

“Some cane growers who usually grow peanuts in rotation are holding back on preparations for a crop because it’s too dry.

“That means the 2022 peanut harvest from February to June is also at risk.

“No wonder growers are questioning what the situation would be like if the 100,000+ megalitres of water wasn’t released from the dam two years ago to allow for work to start. Would we have better allocations now if that water was still in the system and would our crops and farm finances be looking healthier?”

He said the immediate anxiety was on top of the long-running frustration about a lack of clear direction for the future of water storage in the region, which he said was having a significant impact on growers’ mental health.

“We’ve been waiting and waiting for various reports on the options for the future of the dam to be completed and handed down but nothing seems to be happening,” Mr Mammino said.

“We’ve been calling for a quick decision but two years on we are still unable to move on and plan our futures with any certainty.

“The government needs to come clean on what the future of irrigation in this region will look like.”

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