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26/02/2010

Irrigators to attend forum

Berri irrigator Tim Smythe is in Canberra this week to discuss the Riverland region’s farming outlook at the Voices of the Future forum.

Smythe works for the Riverland Wine Industry Development Council and says he will meet other young irrigators from across the cotton, dairy, rice and grape and wine industries to discuss common issues and potential solutions.

“I am really hoping to come away from the forum with a better understanding of the current and likely future water situation in the Basin,” he said.

“Water in the Riverland has been so tight that just keeping permanent plantings alive has been all many grapegrowers have been able to.

“Businesses are based on current allocations, so if there is going to be a significant change, irrigators need to plan to re-structure their businesses."

Smythe says growers need insights into the proportion of environmental verses consumptive flows, and potential compensation if allocations are lost by irrigators.

“Water has a significant impact on the cost of production for the wine industry and combined with the current low commodity prices, it is costing people their livelihoods," he said.

“I am keen to be involved in the Forum to ensure that the interests of irrigators in the Riverland and the grape and wine industry are represented.”

Voices of the Future is an initiative of Cotton Australia in partnership with Ricegrowers Association of Australia, Australian Dairy Farmers and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation.

The project is supported with funding from the Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Department.

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