Helping irrigators face tough early water allocations with courage and confidence

Riverland and lower Murray irrigators are being urged to seek expert business advice and financial counselling following the State Government’s announcement that 2019/20 water allocations may start as low as 14 percent.

While the early announcement of projected minimum allocations is a worst-case scenario, and there are expectations for increased allocations as the main inflow season of July draws near, the allocations have the potential to significantly impact farming families already struggling due to drought conditions.

With a team of experienced Rural Financial Counsellors (RFCs) who intimately understand the irrigators’ concerns, Rural Business Support (RBS) CEO Brett Smith is encouraging irrigators to be proactive and make strategic business decisions between now and the final announcement.

“Our RFCs can help irrigators take a big picture look at their unique business situation and present proactive options to ensure they are making affordable, informed and confident decisions about their way forward,” he said.

Adopting proven business planning practices to deal with drought as well as improve future productivity and profitability, a rural financial counsellor can review options around leasing water and how that will impact an irrigator’s cash flow and viability.

“Our counsellors can help irrigators to make those necessary and informed decisions to take action and move forward,” Mr Smith said.

“For some this may mean it’s a good time to redevelop, but on the other hand there may be others who decide the current price of water presents the ideal opportunity to exit the industry and invest their capital elsewhere.”

“Our counsellors can help irrigators to develop a clear action plan to build confidence, improve investment opportunities and support a more resilient future for them, their families and communities through – and beyond – these challenging seasonal conditions,” Mr Smith said.

Under the rules in the Water Allocation Plan, irrigators will be allowed to carry over un-used allocations from the current year into 2019-20. While allocation water can also be bought for carryover purposes, the total volume of carryover is limited to 20 percent of an irrigator’s entitlement volume.

Irrigators with concerns are encouraged to call RBS on 1800 836 211 to arrange an appointment with a rural financial counsellor. If our phone lines are busy, please be patient and we will attend to your call as quickly as possible. Alternatively, please tap here to complete our online inquiry form.

RBS is anticipating around 200 calls on top of existing drought inquiries and is diverting existing resources to further support counsellors Hayley May and Lloyd Wright, who are based at the RBS Berri office in Kay Ave.