The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has joined other agricultural peak groups welcoming the federal budget commitment to growing and processing food and fibre in Australia.

NIC CEO, Steve Whan said “Australia’s irrigators produce more than 84% of our vegetables, fruit and nuts, along with rice, sugar, dairy and cotton, among other things.  Growing those products sustainably and at competitive cost provides massive benefits to Australian consumers and our economy.

“Irrigators share the same interests as other farmers and welcome initiatives aimed at helping Australia reach the National Farmers Federation goal of $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030.  We join in backing initiatives for more on-shore manufacturing in food and, we hope, fibre.

“Growing any crop needs water and it is water storage and irrigation infrastructure that makes it possible to live in a country with such a variable climate.

“Water and energy are two of the key inputs into irrigators’ production and we can see opportunities to improve both coming out of this budget.

“We have long pointed out that high energy costs make the irrigated agriculture sector less competitive as producers of food and fibre, that’s because energy is used in pumping water, processing and cooling.

“Over recent weeks, the Government has announced initiatives that will help agriculture continue to lead in adopting renewables and reducing use. The federal budget’s extension of instant asset write-off will build on that, with potential for use for new energy efficient equipment including pumps and cooling systems, or on-site renewable generation.

“On water, the allocation of $2 billion toward new infrastructure through the National Water Grid is a massive boost.  In some areas that will mean being able to sustainably increase water storage capacity and expand regional production and jobs, in others it could mean being more efficient water use, delivery and storage.

“We see a lot of unnecessary political argument about new dams, yet instead, we need to be looking at this as an opportunity to optimise infrastructure to expand production in areas where that is sustainable and look at how we can use water infrastructure to ameliorate unavoidable impacts of climate change for producers, communities and the environment.

“NIC also welcomes the funding provided in the budget to implement initiatives for Murray Darling Basin communities recently announced by the Water Minister, the Hon Keith Pitt.”

Media Contact:  Steve Whan 0429 780 883
Thursday 8 October 2020