The Victorian Farmers Federation says it has uncovered new evidence farmers in the state have been hardest hit by the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
It says the northern Victorian dairy industry is significantly worse off as a result of the plan.
Analysis of the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s community profiles revealed Victoria has lost more than 2220 more full time agricultural jobs than any other state in the southern connected system.
The data shows Victoria had lost a staggering 5,116 full time agricultural roles, compared with NSW’s 2877 and South Australia’s 2287.
This is only 48 less than both NSW and SA combined.
“We have long suspected that Victoria was the hardest hit, now we have hard evidence based on the MDBA’s own work,” VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said.
“The Basin Plan effects on Victorian communities are real.
“Victoria has prepared endless reports highlighting the socio-economic impacts of the plan - it’s high time that Canberra started to take notice.”
While an analysis of the MDBA’s community profiles has revealed the staggering jobs hit, Mr Anderson said MDBA had not grouped or compared these community profiles, so discrepancies between state’s were not easily identified.
UDV Vice President Paul Mumford said dairy farmers believed the job losses are also reflected in the decline in milk production.
When considering socio-economic impacts in 2016, RM Consulting Group found that the Basin Plan had already reduced milk production by 440 million litres.
This reflected a $200 million loss at the farm gate and a $360 million loss in dairy processing.
“These job losses cannot continue and we cannot allow the Murray Darling Basin Authority to hide the true story of the impacts of the Basin Plan on our dairy communities,” Mr Mumford said.
Dairy is a major industry in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District, with 1200 farms producing 2 billion litres of milk a year worth $850 million at the farm gate – a third of the total milk produced in Victoria and more than 20 per cent of Australia’s milk.
More than 6600 local people are employed on dairy farms and in eight major dairy processing factories.
“The northern Victorian dairy industry makes up over 85 per cent of dairy production in the Southern Basin system – Canberra cannot continue to ignore the impact on such a critical and major employer in the region,” Mr Mumford said.
The VFF/UDV is very uneasy with a deal the Commonwealth Government, brokered with Federal Labor earlier in the year to recover an additional 450 gigalitres as part of the Basin Plan.
Recent reports have found that if the Commonwealth recovers an additional 450 gigalitres, dairy will reduce milk production by a further 235 million litres, a further $100 million loss at the farm gate and a further $200 million loss in dairy manufacturing.
“People have jobs to go to and lives to live. They can’t be expected to wade through endless reports and pull their own analysis together,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s time the MDBA is more up front with regional communities on Basin Plan impacts.
“The delivery of an additional 450 gigalitres would push Victorian irrigation over the cliff. The Commonwealth must guarantee that any additional water recovery will not cost more jobs.”
The MDBA has been contacted for comment.