An early election commitment from the Liberal National Party to cut the cost of irrigation water for farmers by 20% has been welcomed by Queensland’s largest sugarcane growers’ organisation, CANEGROWERS.
“With more than 65% of our $2.5 billion sugarcane crop in Queensland reliant on irrigation, water and electricity costs are huge issues for profitability in our industry," CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said. “Growers often make decisions to irrigate less than is ideal because costs are prohibitive and that has consequences for crop productivity.
“A water price reduction of 20% would have an immediate and positive impact on our ability to deliver an economic boost to regional economies through increased cane production and grower profitability.
“Making water more affordable for farmers will see benefits flowing throughout regional communities.”
CANEGROWERS will examine the LNP price cut commitment and its plan to alter the underlying fundamentals of the water pricing system, including the long-term implications of its proposed shift to a regulated asset base (RAB) based approach, to see what it means in real dollar terms for each of the sugarcane regions.
“This early announcement of an important election policy is welcome because it gives farmers time to consider it in detail,” Mr Galligan said.
“We welcome too a commitment from the LNP that dam safety upgrade costs would not be passed on to water users as part of the price they pay.
“Like bridges, roads and other public infrastructure in the southeast, well maintained irrigation infrastructure along with sustainably lower and affordable water prices are essential to the economic growth and development of agriculture in regional areas.
“The flow-on effects from irrigated agriculture to the rest of the economy can be substantial.
“For every $1 invested by CANEGROWERS members in growing sugarcane, a further $6.40 is generated in economic activity in Queensland – good reason to make sure that the fundamentals are right to encourage and secure that initial investment.”