Not content to demand more water from thirsty farmers, a South Australian Senator has now demanded that our cotton industry be shut down as well.
Less than a week after the release of the controversial Murray-Darling Basin report, South Australia’s Rex Patrick is calling for cotton exports to be banned. He claims that since 90 per cent of Australia’s cotton is exported, it’s like exporting precious water.
But what Patrick fails to realise is that if farmers couldn’t grow cotton they’d simply grow something else with the same water. Such a move would not have any effect on the amount of water in the Murray-Darling Basin, it would only restrict farmers and destroy a lucrative industry.
Cotton was a $2.1 billion export industry in 2017-18 and employs more than 10,000 people in an average production year – many of them in NSW. More than 90 per cent of cotton is exported to key trading partners like China, Indonesia and Thailand. Cotton is the highest value crop for farmers to grow in most of these areas. Effectively stopping farmers growing the most valuable crop just reduces farm viability and means less jobs.
Furthermore, cotton growers only get water when there is good rainfall. The Gwydir, Namoi and Macquarie districts near Menindee are all on zero general allocation for irrigation this year.
This is a dumb publicity stunt that betrays how little the South Australians know about water, and how little they care about our towns and farms.