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The Murray Darling Basin Plan seeks to address historic over allocation of water for irrigation and associated environmental degradation of rivers, wetlands and lakes.

Murray Darling Basin Plan Response

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan aims to address environmental degradation resulting from historic water overallocation for irrigation and other uses, particularly over the last 60 years.

The Plan was signed into law on Thursday 22 November 2012, with a target to recover 2750 GL in water entitlements primarily from irrigators for the environment by 2019.
As of 30 November 2017, 2090 GL had been recovered for the environment, including 1724 GL in the southern-connected Basin comprising northern Victoria, southern NSW and SA.

The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism

The 2750 GL recovery target can go down by up to 650GL if environmental works (or 'offsets') can deliver similar or better outcomes. This is called 'downwater', and reduces the total volume recovered from irrigators™.

The recovery target can go up by up to 450GL provided no additional negative socio-economic impacts are caused. This is called '˜upwater'™.

The Water Act 2007 and the Basin Plan include regular reviews of socio-economic and environment effects during the implementation period from 2012 to 2024.

Socio-economic and environmental effects

The Basin Plan is affecting water availability and affordability, particularly for dairy farmers in shared irrigation districts. This is presenting a significant adjustment challenge.
Dairy Australia has funded or co-funded studies to pinpoint impacts in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID), which produces 80% of the Basin's milk.

Dairy Australia has also undertaken a study of Basin Plan effects on dairy farming in South Australia, covering the lower Murray River, lower lakes and Mt Lofty Ranges.

1. 'Water market drivers in the southern MDB: Implications for the dairy industry™.
2016-07 - Water market drivers in the southern MDB Implications for the dairy industry (PDF, 1.59MB)

2. Regional irrigated land and water use mapping in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District: Dairy Evaluation
Regional irrigated land and water use mapping in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District: Dairy Evaluation report (PDF, 3.6MB)

The full technical report and summary covering all commodities in the GMID is available here:

3. ˜Basin Plan: GMID socio-economic impact assessment ™- RMCG September 2016
GMID water leadership forum - Basin Plan“ GMID socio-economic impact assessment - 1 page (PDF, 45KB)

2016-10 - Basin plan - GMID socio-economic impact assessment final report (PDF, 7.52MB)

4. South Australia: Basin Plan impacts
Final Report Lower Murray Trends  Basin Plan Impact November 2017 (PDF, 3MB)

Dairy Australia and RDP support for farmers

Dairy Australia's water research and development programs will assist dairy farmers to adapt to the Basin Plan. Regional programs include field days and other extension opportunities to learn about research findings and advances in farm system planning and technologies, business risk management and technical advisory services. For more information, please contact your RDP.

Dairy industry response

The Australian Dairy Industry Council is leading the dairy industry'™s response to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan'™s implementation, in conjunction with state dairy industry bodies and in partnership with the NFF and other commodity and irrigation industry peak bodies.

ADIC Policy Position

No more water recovered from irrigators directly (buybacks) or indirectly (on-farm efficiency measures), due to additional adverse socio-economic and water market effects.

  • 450 GL ‘upwater’ recovered from urban and off-farm efficiency measures.
  • As a first priority, States should support the urban projects Ernst & Young recommend to deliver most of the minimum 62 GL required by 2019.
  • Federal Parliament support the amendment to allow 605GL in environmental offsets
  • Federal Parliament to support the amendment to reduce the northern Basin recovery target from 390 GL to 320 GL.

For more information, please contact Australian Dairy Farmers, 03 8621 4200.


Our Farm, Our Plan

Our Farm, Our Plan is a new program designed to equip farmers to clarify their long term goals, identify the actions needed and to manage uncertainty and risk.

Hay and grain reports

The hay and grain report is commissioned by Dairy Australia to provide an independent and timely assessment of hay and grain markets in each dairying region. The report is updated 40 weeks per year.

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