The National Irrigators Council (NIC) has met this week to set its refreshed strategic direction and discuss important matters relating to climate change and national water reform.

NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “NIC is the voice of irrigated agriculture in Australia and our vision is for a vibrant, respected and sustainable Australian irrigation industry.

“Irrigation farmers grow one hundred percent of Australian rice, ninety percent of our country’s fruit, nuts and grapes, seventy-six percent of our vegetables and over fifty percent of our dairy and sugarcane is produced thanks to irrigated agriculture.

“Irrigated agriculture is a vital industry, not only for our food and fibre needs, but for our local and national economies. When you slice your vegies preparing dinner or put that piece of fruit in the kid’s lunch box or pull on your socks and jocks in the morning, it’s more likely than not you can thank an Aussie farmer.

“This week, NIC members ratified our new strategic plan and set a refreshed direction for the Council. Our objectives going into the next five years will be to remain the national voice and peak body for irrigated agriculture, to protect the security of water as a property right, to promote the importance of the sector, and to advocate for affordable and reliable energy for rural energy

The Council was also joined by Mr Chris Auricht from Auricht Projects to discuss climate, rainfall and water inflows modelling, and Dr Jane Doolan from the Productivity Commission to discuss national water reform and the next iteration of the National Water Initiative.

“Mr Auricht joined the Council to present important data on climate change and water security into the future,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“Chris’s research highlights the changes in inflows and the possibility of a hotter and drier Australia.

“Of particular concern, Mr Auricht’s research shows troubling data silos of Commonwealth and State agencies with differences in geographical borders for statistical areas leading to misaligned and frankly confusing stats. We would ask these agencies to urgently consider aligning the regions for consistency, transparency and to increase data and information quality.

“Dr Doolan presented on the Productivity Commission’s report on national water reform, including the impacts of climate, changing weather and inflows, and the increased pressure on water security which is likely to grow into the future. The new National Water Initiative will include a suite of water reforms.

“While we are still awaiting the Government’s response to the report, it looks like the reforms could be akin to rolling out a Murray-Darling Basin-like plan for the whole nation. We look forward to seeing the Government’s response.

“NIC members restated our strident position that any such reform must have at its core a commitment to the triple bottom line of water which delivers for community, environment and our economy.”