Water is the lifeblood of farming and food production. Water is also central to the interests and concerns of other sector groups; and tensions around water quantity and quality issues have been difficult in many regions. Too often stalling productivity in litigious proceedings ill-designed to deliver optimal outcomes. Federated Farmers supports more collaborative ways of working together at national, regional and catchment levels; and strongly advocates for investment in infrastructure and innovation to deliver win-win outcomes. Federated Farmers acknowledge that farming has an impact on the environment but it is also part of the solution. It is working closely with primary sector organisations to support the development and uptake of initiatives to improve the efficiency of resource use and to minimise run-off and leaching from farmland. Over the last decade, significant progress has been made across all farming sectors: in addition to major investments in research and extension activities, a number of sectors have implemented audited self-management systems.
Federated Farmers emphasises that industry leadership, rather than regulation by arbitrary numbers, will deliver water-efficient and nutrient-efficient farming systems that enhance ecological and recreational values.
Federated Farmers supports national guidelines for safeguarding indigenous species and for secondary contact recreation; with bottom lines or exceptions applied equally to urban and rural waterways.
When it comes to the Overseer model and managing nutrients for water quality, Federated Farmers views that enhancement of the model is required so that measurements become more stable and reliable over time. In the short-term, there are significant limitations that need to be catered for in any allocation or regulatory regime. Other measures may need to be included to ensure innovation is incentivised and that the focus remains on good practice rather than numbers. If modelled estimates in Overseer change then appropriate transition periods should be provided for. As a policy position, Federated Farmers rejects resource taxes, such as a water tax, on farming. Resource taxes are at best very poorly targeted and applied, and at worst grossly inequitable and ineffective.