The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) has welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to endorse more equitable and consistent irrigation pricing arrangements for Queensland farmers through state-owned water supply schemes.
Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, the Hon Glenn Butcher MP, has confirmed that irrigation prices in all Sunwater and Seqwater supply schemes will soon be capped at the Queensland Competition Authority’s (QCA) assessed cost reflective level, often referred to as the lower bound price.
Through the policy change, where water prices are higher than lower bound prudent and efficient costs, prices will now be reduced to reflect the efficient or actual cost, whichever is lower.
Current water prices that are below cost reflective prices, will continue to transition towards cost reflective prices as per the irrigation price path.
Water is a critical input for Queensland’s agricultural sector and essential for the future success of agricultural growth in Queensland. However, this success and growth is reliant on farmers’ ability to access affordable, reliable and secure irrigation water.
“QFF and its industry members have been advocating for many years on water pricing structures and the inequities this pricing can present for Queensland farmers,” said QFF CEO Jo Sheppard.
“Queensland’s agricultural sector has some of the highest input costs in the world and this decision will not only benefit farmers, but there will also be ongoing and broader economic benefits borne from the increased use of water due to affordability.”
“This will include more jobs, more profitability for farming businesses resulting in more expenditure in regional communities, as well as ensuring fresh food is affordable for all Queenslanders.
“QFF welcomed the opportunity to work with the government’s to support this recommendation which will benefit our members and irrigators across Queensland more broadly.”
Cotton Australia General Manager of Operations and Chair of QFF’s Water and Energy Policy Committee (WEPC) Michael Murray said the policy change was an important win for agricultural producers in the state.
“Excessive costs and uncertainty about future price increases can negatively impact any farming operation that relies on crucial agricultural inputs like water,” Mr Murray said.
“This change will ensure farmers in Queensland have access to cost effective irrigation bringing greater confidence to their long-term prosperity potential.”
Queensland Water Minister Glenn Butcher said the Palaszczuk Government’s decision provides for more equitable and consistent irrigation pricing arrangements across all schemes.
“Agriculture is one of the major contributors to Queensland’s economy so it’s absolutely critical that we do whatever we can, to make sure product is making it from paddock to sale in the most efficient way possible.
“We know this decision will help contribute to more good jobs and the continuation of great services provided by Queensland farmers, which is a priority for the Palaszczuk Government.”
The QCA will now review irrigation water pricing through consultation with irrigators, with the current price path to remain until to 2024/2025.
QFF will continue to advocate on behalf of QFF members and the Queensland agriculture sector on this important issue.