Jun 04 2009
Efforts by the Australian federal government to buy back water rights, largely for environmental purposes, seem to be developing a mix of reactions around the country.
On one hand, a lot of sales seem to be underway.
The Australian has reported that “THE federal-state compromise on water trading has had immediate effect, as farmers in Victoria are already negotiating with the commonwealth to sell more than 80 billion litres of water. The Australian has learned the Victorian Farmers Federation is helping several groups of farmers in the north of the state sell their water rights – worth a total of $64 million on current prices – and exit the industry with some dignity. As reported in The Weekend Australian, the Victorian and federal governments have struck a deal to lift the state’s irrigation cap in some cases to facilitate the commowealth’s $3.1 billion environmental water buyback.”
However, from the Victorian Farmers Federation:
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has acknowledged that today’s Commonwealth – Victorian Water Agreement will retain the four percent cap on water trading until at least 2011. Today’s agreement will introduce a more strategic approach to obtaining water for the environment.
VFF Water Council Chairman Richard Anderson said that although the four percent trading cap had attracted criticism from other states it was essential to allowing rural communities to adapt to water trade.
“The approach adopted in this agreement of using targeted water buybacks and on-farm efficiency programs to allow the Commonwealth access to more water has been discussed with Victorian farmers,” Mr Anderson said.
“While comprehensive details of the agreement have not been released, the broad principles flagged are likely to reverse the current hit and miss approach of buying water from wherever it can be obtained.”
“The VFF has argued from the commencement of the national buy back that a strategic approach must be taken to the purchase of water. Victorian farmers have welcomed the continued support of the Victorian Government in backing the VFF’s position in support of the four percent cap.”
“The VFF treats the targeted 300 billion litres of water with caution as it will be difficult to determine the level of uptake until the program has been rolled out.”
“Farmers question why the Federal Government is targeting 65 percent of water purchases over the next four years from the most efficient users of water in the country. It is important to reinforce that the VFF and the irrigation community do not support compulsory buybacks to reach this target.”
“The VFF looks forward to the details of the agreement. Federal Water Minister Wong Penny Wong will address delegates at next week’s VFF Annual Conference where I am sure many farmers will have questions on the water trading issue,” Mr Anderson concluded.
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