Qld irrigation community facing bleak future

26th January 2007The useful rains falling throughout large swathes of outback Australia have been of little consolation for small irrigation communities like the Cunningham District Irrigators Association in southern Queensland.

Association spokesperson, Gary Cooper, says the future for irrigators continues to look “very bleak” until there’s a good general wet across parched broadacre paddocks, requiring at least a couple of good seasons to return to more normal crop production patterns.

The district’s 200-300 acre farms are struggling to pay their way by irrigating lucerne and sorghum crops, plus maintain local dairy and vegetable production.

“Our ground water allocation is all that is keeping us going,” Mr Cooper said.

In a bid to diversify Mr Cooper is running a small feedlot, while other producers are getting involved in the transport business, and still more are looking to take jobs in nearby towns.

While the lack of water is bad enough, irrigators across Queensland continue to be wrankled by the apparent inaction of the Queensland Government to quickly implement a promised rebate for the State’s Part A component of its fixed water charges.

“We’ve only had a bellyful of promises with no answers,” Mr Cooper said.

“This is our fifth year without water and even though know we’re not going to get any water, we hate paying for something we haven’t even got a chance of getting,” Mr Cooper said.

Annual charges of about $4500/year for 250ML, split between the two Cooper brothers’ properties, are typical of the district’s 30 irrigators with the largest allocation totalling 280ML.

SOURCE: Queensland Country Life

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