Australian farmers are desperate to negotiate compensation claims with the Federal Government. They were forced to halt production because of low flows down New South Wales’ Darling River.
Ten families living along the lower Darling have been negotiating handing back high-security water licenses to the Commonwealth but have been forced to turn off the taps before a deal has been struck.
Rachel Strachan lives at Tulney Point Station and said it’s going to be hard watching the almost 90-year-old crops die. She lives with her partner Steve, neighbouring her in-laws who have passed down the farm for generations.
“It's a heartbreaking situation to be in,” she told SBS News. “My father in law, he goes, 'oh I haven't worked my whole life to have the government take this away from me for no nothing', so we're fighting to try and at least be compensated for what we're giving up.”
“We have run out of water for our high-value citrus, stone fruit, wine grapes and table grapes a year before we should have,” she said. “We’ve never run out of water before, and in previous dry years we have used carry-over water and some limited groundwater to sustain our permanent plantings. “This is why our trees and vines have survived and been productive up until now.”
No place for horticulture
She said she understands removing horticulture from the lower Darling will free up water for stock, domestic and environmental use. But the decision hasn't been easy.
“At the moment citrus and wine grapes are booming so it's the worst time to be coming out of the industry, but I don't think we have much choice in the matter,” she said.