Monday, November 28, 2011

Australia's plan to drought-proof food bowl

TVNZ (New Zealand): Australian farmers face deep cuts to irrigation water use under proposals unveiled today to help protect the country's vast food bowl. The plan is set to spark a new fight for Prime Minister Julia Gillard's beleaguered Labor government.

After angry farmers last year staged protests and burned copies of a government water plan, officials released a new, scaled-back proposal to cut water use by 25% across the Murray-Darling river basin. This area is the size of France and Spain and produces 90% of Australia's fresh food.

The draft plan would restore the health of the Murray-Darling basin against climate change that is expected to bring more droughts like one which ravaged the country for over a decade until 2009, Environment Minister Tony Burke said.

However, Burke acknowledged many farmers and affected states would be unhappy. "There will be arguments up and down the Basin. That's why we've gone (110 years) since Federation without having sensible reform and getting this right," Burke said.

Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent and climate scientists expect it to be hard hit by global warming. Devastating floods which finally broke the last drought earlier this year are thought by many scientists to be a sign of increasing unpredictability of the country's climate...

The Murray River at Loxton, shot by Dwayne Madden, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: