MID money is needed: UDV

UNITED Dairyfarmers of Victoria has called on the federal government to help fund an upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District.

The state government last year committed $20 million to fund stage 1B of the MID modernisation project, with local stakeholders also committing $20 million.

With a funding hole still remaining, UDV president Adam Jenkins said the dairy organisation was looking to the federal government to cover the cost.

“The Macalister project is an important investment for agriculture and will result in great paybacks for the dairy industry, as well as the Australian economy,” Mr Jenkins said.

“Australia now has free trade agreements with China, Japan, and Korea, which has increased demand on the dairy industry.

“This an opportunity for the federal government to support ongoing growth and profitability in the sector, which underpins our healthy communities.”

Stage one of the project includes replacing 85 kilometres of old channels with 38km of pressurised pipes and 26km of automated channel, which will save 9700 megalitres of water for the district’s dairy farmers and vegetable growers.

Modernising the infrastructure will mean quicker and more efficient delivery of water to farms.

“Modernisation is really important for our members to continue to improve efficiency, but it will also help ensure our industry is environmentally sustainable in the long term,” Mr Jenkins said.

UDV and the Victorian Farmers Federation are also seeking a longer term commitment to fund the second stage of the MID 2030 Modernisation project, which has been costed at $190 million.

Last month Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said an urgent upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District was needed to create job opportunities and capitalise on the Australian Government’s signing of free trade agreements.

He said it wad a project which would deliver benefits in the order of $45 million to $50 million per year, and cost in the order of $60 million to modernise.

“It will provide in the order of 9700 megalitres in savings from the current system,” Mr Chester  said.

“ These water savings can obviously be used to further support growth and expansion in the dairy and horticultural sector in Gippsland.”