Australia will spend an extra A$1.8 billion ($1.9 billion) to boost the amount of water returned to the Murray-Darling Basin as it seeks to ensure sustainable food production in the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter.
Irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin should be cut by as much as 37 percent to protect the environment in a drought-prone region that is home to almost half of Australia’s farms, according to a government- commissioned report today.
Australia must balance returning water to the nation’s river system with the “human cost” to farming communities, Regional Development Minister Simon Crean said as the government faces a backlash to proposed water cuts.
Rice production in Australia may almost quadruple next harvest as heavier-than-usual rainfall boosts water supplies following a decade of drought, a growers’ group said after raising its production forecast.
Plans to cut irrigation by as much as 37 percent in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, home to almost half of the nation’s farms, will raise fresh food prices, the country’s main farming organization said.
Australia is likely to face demands for more than A$2 billion in water rights buybacks from farmers as part of the Murray-Darling river plan, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today, citing Australian National University Professor Quentin Grafton. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is expected to announce water extraction must reduce by 27 percent to 37 percent, the newspaper said. Labor has said its A$9 billion recovery plan won’t secure enough water to meet reduction targets, according to the report.
Eastern grain-growing regions in Australia, the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter, are set to receive rain this week, boosting production prospects just as dry weather threatens supply from the U.S., the biggest shipper.