Young farmer Darcy Hare is excited about his new career growing food and fibre for Australians and the rest of the world.
He wants politicians to support young food producers like himself and develop water policy which will encourage production.
Darcy recently returned to the family farm near Wakool, in southern New South Wales, after time in Melbourne working in grain marketing.
He knows the region is a major asset to the Murray-Darling food bowl, with the Murray Valley contributing an estimated $550 - $700 million in Gross Value Irrigated Agriculture alone annually to Australia’s GDP.
However, Darcy is concerned about the water politics at play which place uncertainty around the future of food producers like himself. This is why Darcy joined Wakool Landholders Association, his local representative group.
Through his involvement Darcy can learn more and understand the inner workings of water politics, policy and mechanics of the river system that have direct impacts in this region.
“My generation needs to learn and gain knowledge from industry leaders. Many of our neighbours have given countless years to the cause of keeping water in this area, trying to educate bureaucrats and politicians as they come and go.
“They can’t do it forever, so we as the younger generation need to learn from them, lead by example and get involved,” he said.
Darcy is keen to highlight the need for governments to ensure our food and fibre growing potential and its ability to support our own country, and other countries throughout the world, is not lost.
“I am passionate about this region and its capabilities, but frustrated by what is happening in political circles, which was highlighted by South Australian Water Minister Ian Hunter’s attitude at the recent meeting of State and Federal Water Ministers,” he said.
At the meeting, Mr Hunter insisted on an additional 450GL for South Australia under the Basin Plan, despite legislative guarantees this would only be delivered if there were no adverse social and economic impacts on rural communities. Numerous reports have shown the impacts will be severe. There are also no studies to indicate this additional environmental water is required.
“It is disappointing when people elected into positions of high office put personal gains ahead of the prosperity of the entire nation,” Darcy said.
Darcy explained that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on upgrading the irrigation system across the Murray Irrigation Ltd footprint, of which he is a customer and shareholder. It’s one of the largest privately owned water companies in the world, it is highly measured and efficient.
“My region is home to the Murray River and its tributaries, including the Edward-Wakool system. We have fertile soils and access to transport and ports.
“We also have young farmers like myself who are ‘chomping at the bit’ to produce food and fibre, taking advantage of system upgrades, technology and our ability to lead the world in farming efficiency.
“The only other ingredient we need to be major players in the dining boom is access to reliable and affordable water,” Darcy said
He added this region had unfortunately been the hardest hit by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and cannot afford to lose any more water.
“The new Minister for Ag and Water, Mr Littleproud needs to visit the region to see for himself and better understand the impact of removing more water from the MIL area, as well as get an appreciation for constraints issues such as the Barmah and Millewa chokes, which limit the amount of water which can be safely delivered through the system.
“It’s too complex to get sufficient knowledge of all this from Canberra or Queensland … only a personal visit will give the Minister the insight he needs,” Darcy insisted.