Many farming communities across the Murray Darling Basin are under immense strain as a result of the unparalleled drought we are living through.
We know that the impacts of this drought are being made worse by a Murray Darling Basin Plan that is just not working for agriculture, Basin communities or the environment.
In times like this, it's hard to think things could get any worse. But calls to 'Can the Plan' have the potential to put at risk the water property rights of farmers across the Basin and see more water removed from the consumptive pool.
NSW Farmers met with Speak Up 4 Water at the rally in Canberra this week and are united in the view that the Plan is currently not delivering a fair deal for farmers.
There was also strong consensus that the Morrison government's Murray Darling Basin Inspector-General, Mick Keelty, be given statutory powers.
We are asking government to act immediately to implement the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and fix the policy, funding and operational issues that were highlighted in the five-year review of the Plan.
NSW Farmers is also calling for a rethinking of Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment projects to provide environmental outcomes, without recovering more water from the consumptive pool.
There also needs to be limitations to the expansion of irrigation development below the Barmah Choke and a review of the viability of the environmental contributions made to the South Australian lakes scheme.
NSW Farmers supports the concept of a fair Plan that protects the viability of farming in the Basin and the fragile ecosystems that depend on the rivers.
But we believe that the Plan is not delivering a fair deal for farmers or the environment.
- James Jackson is the NSW Farmers president.