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MacLoran Farm

Water security remains lobby group’s focus

Rising water prices are an ongoing concern to livestock producers throughout the State, with rates in some regions rising by more than 250 per cent in the past decade.

Water security is a key priority for Livestock SA and we are keen to see access to reliable and fair priced water for livestock producers across the State.

While Livestock SA continues to follow the inquiry into water pricing in SA closely, it has also been pleasing to hear of the recent Federal and State Government announcement of $5 million in Federal rebates for drought-affected livestock farmers who invest in on-farm water infrastructure.

The On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme applies to new purchases and installation of pipes, water storages and water pumps, distilling dams and associated power supplies such as generators.

It provides a 25pc rebate up to $25,000 for eligible water infrastructure designed to enhance drought resilience for producers in SA.

Livestock SA encourages drought-affected livestock producers to consider applying for this funding.

It is a great opportunity, particularly for those who were already considering upgrading or investing in further water infrastructure on their properties. Eligibility guidelines and application forms are available on the PIRSA website.

Regarding the Inquiry’s third report titled ‘A Cautious Conclusion’, it was pleasing but concerning to read the findings into water pricing in SA. The report provides in-depth analysis which shows that unreasonably high water prices have been set in recent years.

For Livestock SA and its members, the crux of the issue was highlighted by the summary in the report of the price rises:

“Real water price rises of 12.7pc in 2008-09, 17.9pc in 2009-10 and 21.7pc in 2010-11 were followed by nominal increases of 26.3pc in 2011-12 and 25.0pc in 2012-13. The process is characterised by a dramatic rise in water prices over the period: from an Index of 100 in June 2008, the increases resulted in a price index of approximately 270 by July 2012.”

Livestock producers play a crucial role in the state’s economy and contributed strongly to the agri-food sector’s record-breaking revenue of $19.975 billion in the 2016-17 financial year.

The sector is also a key employer within the state, supporting more than 30,000 SA jobs, with a strong capacity for further growth and development.

It is vital livestock producers are able to access stock water at sustainable prices to ensure they remain resilient and viable in the long-term.

The ongoing high prices have had a critical impact on many producers.

Livestock SA strongly endorses Professor Richard Blandy’s observations, particularly that the water industry outputs should be delivered at the lowest possible cost, and not based on monopoly profits.

ANDREW CURTIS, Chief Executive Officer, Livestock SA

Published: 1 March 2019