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$8.6 million for new irrigation research at Dookie, but we also need to put funds into farms!

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

$8.6 million for new irrigation research at Dookie, but we also need to put funds into farms!

A new federally funded project called Farms, Rivers and Markets is to deliver a guide to farmers about how to save water on-farm, including using rainfall, irrigation and recycled water, Federal Member for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, said today.

“This research is strongly welcomed, especially since specialists in agriculture and economics will work with local farmers and water delivery agencies to try to develop new ways to farm with much less water all while improving productivity.

“What we need now is the more than $2 billion which was earmarked by the Howard Government to be released by the Rudd Labor Government for the implementation of on-farm water use efficiency measures in our area.

“While all farmers will benefit from new information, after five years of severe drought, few have the spare cash to invest in the new technologies or infrastructure. Irrigators need assistance to invest in sub-surface irrigation or the replacing of flood irrigation with

pressurised systems in an orchard, for example.

“Irrigators’ on-farm water use efficiency has always been boosted with significant government support in the past. For example, when whole farm planning, re-use systems and laser grading were needed to help combat salinity problems, the state government offered very generous subsidies. The state and federal governments have also contributed

most of the funding for community drains.

“But at the time when we need such continued government investment in on-farm works the most, we have seen the funds dry up”, Dr Stone said.

“This new research programme, to be run out of Dookie College, is an excellent initiative, and I congratulate all who are involved. However we also need funds now to translate the new information into real works that will actually save the water and so save our local economy.