According to M. Chalmers from Bundaberg, “It has taken a long time, many years in fact, but the Government has finally admitted that Australia is suffering from a severe drought.” So begins this letter to the editor in Queensland’s rural weekly The Queensland Country Life. The letter goes on to explain that “lack of rain and water for irrigation means we have no way of growing crops or raising livestock.” Well yes, that’s how it is in a drought.
In fact, perhaps the take away message from this letter and everything else in the three rural papers I read this morning, is that while the government is crying drought and farmers are happy to pick up the millions and millions of dollars being thrown their way as ‘drought assistance’, some farmers haven’t really thought through the consequence of drought. It actually means that you shouldn’t be growing crops and it might be worth destocking rather than bringing those heifers into calf again.
Along the Murray River rice growers know that if there’s no water allocation they can’t grow a crop … and most of them don’t expect to. But interestingly in places like South Australia, where irrigators have mostly planted perennial crops including wine grapes and almonds …well they need water every year.
I guess this is why there is so much anguish when allocations to South Australia are cut to just 70 percent because of the drought. That’s right, South Austraian irrigators are getting 70 percent of their water allocation during what many commentators are claiming to be the worst drought on record.
According to ABC Online, “SA Minister for the River Murray, Karlene Maywald, says the situation is rapidly deteriorating, and that she will announce the new [70 percent] allocation figure early next month [down from 80 percent], but for now irrigators need to understand the severity of the situation.”
So how severe is the situation, really?
I’ve made some comment on this, and also the idea that wind and sun farms will stop climate change, in a piece published today by On Line Opinion:http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5076 .