As our farming communities endure another year of drought, it is clear the Murray Darling Basin Plan is failing to respond to the needs of irrigated agriculture and the environment.
Now is the time for all farmers to work together in fixing the Basin Plan to restore the balance between water for our farms, our communities and our environment.
Just a few months ago, the community witnessed fish kills in the Darling River and Menindee Lakes.
Many unaware commentators were quick to point the finger and direct the blame in the way of irrigated agriculture.
Since that time, public sentiment has shifted.
People in the cities are seeing the stress that farming communities are dealing with and are sympathetic to the idea of restoring the balance between agriculture and the environment.
Farmers cannot seize on this public goodwill if we are divided.
We also cannot seize the opportunity to fix the Murray Darling Basin Plan if we are not prepared to show leadership by proposing workable solutions ourselves.
That's why the VFF is putting forward a 10 point plan to help restore the balance between irrigated agriculture and the environment in the Murray Darling Basin.
Our plan includes a raft of measures that are aimed at giving farming communities greater certainty so they can get on with building a future in agriculture and contribute to the national goal of a $100 billion industry by the year 2030.
This includes certainty about what happens at the conclusion of the Basin Plan in 2024.
Currently, the legislation allows for a review in 2024 and more water recovery could start all over again.
Prime Minister John Howard promised our communities this was a "once and for all" exercise.
This commitment must be honoured by all governments.
An inflexible Basin Plan will not allow us to progress our solutions.
Current laws mean the Basin Plan and government cannot respond to what we have learned since its inception.
We have been left with a complex and rigid legal instrument that no politician is game to touch.
The first step in fixing the Murray Darling Basin must be to simplify the legislation to give the whole community certainty.
To do this, farmers need to unite behind the solutions, and our politicians need to show leadership.