Former dairy farmer Vanessa Wight talks to Joy Calder about the impacts of the current drought, water allocation, and politics on dairy farming in the Cohuna district.
Further InformationTRANSCRIPT OF DROUGHT STORIES INTERVIEW EXCERPT 8
Joy Calder (Interviewer): What do you believe are the reasons for this current drought?
Vanessa Wright: Oh, yes I think, it’s, a lot of it’s climatic cycles, like you go back, I’ve got a photo in my office, of a picnic in, I think it’s about 1914, taken up at Murrabit with them, and it’s a photo that’s around a bit, of the buggies, a new year’s day picnic of the townspeople all in the bank of the Murray River, with the dry bed, where they were having the picnic.
Now I think there’s things that do just naturally happen that, you know and they’ll come, things will come and go, and you know, sort of fires, and burning off, and grazing and things, there’s a lot of things that people try and take control of that maybe they over, try and over control,
So yes I think, oh there’s a bit of merit, probably in climate change, but I don’t think it’s something that we understand, enough, I think it’s, but it’s too political is the problem, that it’s, you know, there’s not, people aren’t necessarily into things for, really to get the right answer, they’re in there a lot of the time to push a barrow, or prove a point, which doesn’t, you know, it really doesn’t get anywhere.
But the other things, sort of, I guess talking political, the situation in this area, there’s so many things on top of each other that have, why, oh well I guess why we’ve ended up selling the cows, if it was just the drought we’d probably be still milking, if it was just the water allocations we’d still be milking, or, but the problem is that they’ve had the years of no rain, we’ve got low water allocation, the milk price, it’s, is, there’s been so low, and I still think it’s very volatile, so it’s all those things that add up, on top of each other.
And the, yes the political scene’s definitely impact on that, I think, if we had a different government we’d probably still be milking cows, too, but they’re never going to get the votes here, so they won’t, they won’t change, they don’t need to, you haven’t got the, why they don’t need, they haven’t got our seats, and they don’t need our seats, and they know they’re not going to get them, they’re never going to change, as to what it is;
So I think the, you know the water, the way that the allocations are now, that there was a dispute a while back, with the water going into Melbourne, that there was something that had happened in Melbourne, about whether they could have done something better and then the next day their, our water allocations were increased up here, which was really disappointing to see, because there hadn’t been the rainfall from the last allocation, it was purely a political move, as to why we got more water.
So things like that, I think, are really disappointing, because you can control what’s on your farm, and you can control the things, you know, that you can deal with, but when you get thrown things like that, that you shouldn’t have to deal with, or that, you know, should be a given, or if you knew what they were, if you knew what’s round the corner it’s easy, but so many of those unknown things that are changed, make it, just make it too difficult.
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