Clearer picture emerges of challenges and opportunities for the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District

Farmers and communities in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) need to continue to adapt to changes in water supply and land-use to remain competitive: that’s the clear message of two reports released by the Goulburn Broken CMA today.

Farmers and communities in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) need to continue to adapt to changes in water supply and land-use to remain competitive: that’s the clear message of two reports released by the Goulburn Broken CMA today.

Goulburn Broken CMA CEO Chris Norman said the findings of the Regional Irrigated Land and Water Use Mapping and The Challenges and Opportunities of Changes to Water Availability on the Food and Fibre Sector reports provided solid data to inform decisions in the GMID.

“There is now a huge weight of work that confirms, among other things, that less water is being used by irrigators across the GMID, that there is more demand for high security water from outside the region, and irrigators are more reliant than ever on temporary  water to meet their production needs and therefore are more exposed to higher water prices than in 2004/05 when we last did this level of in-depth analysis,” he said.

Changes in land-use such as sub-dividing land previously used for agriculture for residential and ‘hobby farm’ use are also having an impact, which contributes to the area being ‘dried off’.

Despite the many challenges faced by the region, the GMID’s farmers and communities remain resilient and resourceful.

“More than 70 per cent the farmers surveyed remained optimistic,  saying they believed they would still be farming their property in the next five to 10 years, and half planned to pass their property on to a family member,” Mr Norman said.

“Farmers are upgrading their farm irrigation infrastructure to increase productivity and use water more efficiently, which also benefits the environment. The majority of farmers have also completed and are implementing a professionally prepared whole farm plan. This shows a willingness to adapt their management practices and develop flexible sustainable farming systems.”

“These reports build on and complement studies done by us and others over the past decade including the Basin Plan - GMID Socio-economic Impact Assessment report released by the GMID Water Leadership Group late last year, and Victoria’s recently released study into the Social and Economic Impacts of Basin Plan in Victoria,” Mr Norman said.

Goulburn Murray Water Managing Director Pat Lennon said “this important mapping of land and water use across the GMID will help inform our future strategic planning for the business and shows how important these type of joint efforts are to understand the changes in the irrigation community”.

Data from the reports will now be used to develop an action plan highlighting a range opportunities for activities in GMID that will continue to make it an attractive place to grow existing and new food and fibre-related businesses while protecting and improving the area’s unique environmental and cultural values.

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Water Minister Lisa Neville said the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria commits to helping irrigation districts to adapt.

 “The data and information collected for these two reports provides a valuable resource to respond to the challenges that are being faced across the GMID.”