Responses have continued this week to the South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan, the findings of which were handed down on Friday.
Today, the SA-based Centre Alliance Party launched a perplexing plan to introduce a Bill to ban cotton exports.
The National Farmers’ Federation have labelled the move as a politically-motivated stunt and urged Senator Rex Patrick, the Party’s representative behind the idea, to educate himself on basic economics.
This stunt has everything to do with profile raising and nothing to do with the national interest.
“Thankfully Australia’s political regime doesn’t allow the Government to dictate what farmers should grow. Such a system would set up a dangerous set of circumstances that would quickly spiral downward,” Ms Simson said.
“A political system that determined what industries can exist would jeopardise South Australia’s irrigated wine, fruit and dairy sectors.
“Together they generate more than $1 billion in production, but without Murray Darling irrigation they simply would not exist.”
This is a big step. But without major party support … pic.twitter.com/WEdsKpIjFT
— Anna Henderson (@annajhenderson) February 3, 2019
There are currently 1009 Australian cotton farmers , and cotton exports is valued at $2.1 billion per annum. In a god year, the industry directly employs 10,000 regional Australians.
More than 90 per cent of Australian cotton is grown for export, therefore the Centre Alliance Party’s plan would spell the end of cotton production in this country.
The idea, according to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, is a bad one.
“Cotton is the highest value crop for farmers to grow in most of these areas. Effectively stopping farmers growing the most valuable crop reduces farm viability and means less jobs.“Banning the export of any particular crop likely breaches out World Trade Organisation obligations. Australia is a nation of 25 million people growing enough food for 75 million people – we need trade,” Mr Littleproud said.
The NFF agreed.
“Talk on ceasing industries has the potential to erode confidence in Australian exports and encourage international customers to turn to suppliers which are perceived to be more secure,” Ms Simson said.
“We’d also breach our international trade commitments that exist to ensure common sense dictates international trade – not silly ideas that resolve nothing.”
@Senator_Patrick wants to ban the export & therefore the growing of cotton, under the misguided idea it will save the Murray Darling.
This cotton crop is rainfed, it hasn’t used a single drop of Murray Darling irrigation water.
Yet he wants to ban it. Why? pic.twitter.com/wEaFpbhBMw
— Sam Heagney (@samheagney) February 4, 2019
The agricultural industry are all in agreeance that the Centre Alliance Party’s idea will not deliver any extra water to the river as farmers have bought a certain amount of water and in a year of reasonable rainfal.
If a farmer has 100 megalitres which they normally use to grow cotton and cotton is made unviable, they just use that water to grow a different crop.
Further, farmers only get to use their water in years of good rainfall. The Gwydir, Namoi and Macquarie districts near Menindee are all on zero general allocation for irrigation this year,” Mr Littleproud said.
This stunt is another reckless attack against the cotton industry, an industry that is fiercely protecting its hardworking growers and its rural communities.
“Our industry will not be dictated to by some point-scoring politicians disguising their vendetta against our industry as being in the ‘national interest’,” Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said.
Our full statement regarding today's dangerous political stunt moving to ban #Australian #cotton exports ➡️ https://t.co/sTuo7JArpl #FactsMatter @NationalFarmers @Nat_Irrigators @nswirrigators @QldFarmers #MurrayDarlingBasin @auspol pic.twitter.com/AHUcv4SSIm
— Cotton Australia (@CottonAustralia) February 4, 2019