Food plan will damage farming industry: QLD mayor

The mayor of Richmond in Queensland has declared the farming industry will suffer when the northern food bowl is developed, as it will be too expensive for farmers.

John Wharton, mayor of Richmond, in the north west of the state said the Flinders River Agricultural Precinct, which aims to get land users to partake in irrigated agriculture, will only work with assistance from state and federal governments.

"The farmers on that river need to invest millions of dollars to build a farm. They’re not going to be doing that in these times," he told the ABC.

"To get any farms up and running along that river will cost a couple of million dollars in pumping gear, then another couple of million dollars to develop a farm.

“There’s a lot of money involved."

Chris Griffin, National Dairy Farmers Association president has shared similar concerns over the government’s food plan with Food Magazine, saying the Murray Darling Basin plan will mean less water available for the same number of farmers in the region.

“Given that the government has a national food plan they’re trying to roll out and we believe the dairy industry is a massive part of that, we would like to consult with them about the plan,” he said.

“Australia has been very fortunate that we have been able to produce enough dairy products not only for domestic consumption, but also for export, which then generates wealth for the country.
“This plan is going to jeopardise that.”

“At this stage we say a certain amount of water has been taken out already and we need to have a strategic look, working with the government to see where it is going to come from in the future rather than using the ‘Swiss cheese approach’ currently being used.

“It means less water for the same amount of farmers, and maintenance costs will be higher because there are not as many people contributing to the maintenance.”

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