Australian Dairy Industry Water Taskforce
Secure access to quality water is paramount to dairy’s future. Reduced access to the water resources the industry relies on will impact dairy’s profitability, productivity and international reputation.
To ensure that the dairy industry’s key priorities are effectively represented and addressed in discussions regarding water access and reliability, the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) has re-formed its Water Taskforce.
- Achieve the full 650 GL in offsets. This is non-negotiable. Proposed projects must be on the table with certainty they can deliver, before the SDL adjustment is made.
- No moves to recover the 450 GL ‘upwater’ until the Plan’s 2750 GL target is met first.
- The socio-economic neutrality test for the 450 GL upwater changed so impacts are measured at regional level, not individual farm level.
- The Water Act and Basin Plan amended to say ‘up to 450 GL’, rather than requiring the full amount to be recovered as is now the case.
- The SDL adjustment range is changed from ±5% of the 10,873 GL SDL, to ±6% so the whole 650 GL can be accounted for.
- The SDL adjustment delayed until at least mid-2017, to get certainty on 650 GL offsets and proper socio-economic effects analysis of recovering the 450 GL upwater.
Dairy is the largest irrigation-based livestock industry in the Murray-Darling Basin, with around 1790 dairy farms producing 2.623 billion litres of milk in 2014 (27% of Australia’s total milk production) 98% of these farms are family owned.
The Australian dairy industry supports reforms to improve the environmental health of rivers, wetlands and lakes across the Murray-Darling Basin. Our farmers have played an active role in achieving better environmental outcomes, through selling and transferring water for the environment, and participating in Landcare and catchment management activities and plans.
The ADIC supports a Murray-Darling Basin Plan with clear and appropriate targets to recover water for the environment, and clear and appropriate means of achieving those targets. The Plan should also support productive and profitable rural industries such as dairy farming. Striking the right balance may not be achieved through the Basin Plan and associated Acts in their current form.
2016 is a critical year in the MDBP’s implementation. The deadline for the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism is imminent. Progress with state offset projects leading up to this June 2016 review is also of significant concern.
The ADIC Water Taskforce, chaired by Victorian dairyfarmer Daryl Hoey, provides a cross-industry group to support the ADIC in driving for pro-dairy solutions in current and future opportunities for review and change.
The priorities of the Taskforce for 2016 are to seek a review and delay the 450GL ‘upwater’ as part of a stock take to better understand the effects (both positive and negative) of water recovery. This ‘upwater’ will only be recovered if the socio-economic impact is declared neutral.
The Taskforce will also push for the delivery of the full 650 GL in environmental offsets to ensure any shortfall does not have to be covered by farmers. Other targets include a more transparent water market and information as well as ongoing monitoring and support for regional and state water programs including the Northern Basin and Connections Reviews.