Cherry farm in Shepparton Victoria closes due to high water prices

Nearly twenty years ago, Joseph Campanelli established a farm and fruit stand in the tiny town of Wyuna under the name "Big Cherry."

Joseph Campanelli has removed and demolished some 3,500 cherry trees from his land and is now thinking about selling.
Other orchardists in the area are fearful for their businesses' futures because water costs roughly $500 a megaliter.
Price increases for staples like corn and hay have also hurt the region's dairy farmers.

However, he said that escalating water costs had rendered farming economically untenable.

"It was impossible to maintain. In this day and age, it's just not worthwhile "What he had to say was.

The current price of a megaliter of water in Victoria is over $500, which is far higher than the $120 Mr. Campanelli paid just one year ago.

Simply put, I was unable to justify the expense of any further purchases. He went on to say, When I rang up to order the water [this year], it was $450, then I rang up again, and it was $520.

The Big Cherry statue in front of orchards in Wyuna, Victoria

He remarked that it was a terrible situation, but what could be done? in response to the enquiry that was asked.

It's possible that I'll have to sell it. I really have no idea. This piece of real estate is going to lose all of its value. You do not have access to any water, and the land is worthless to you."

It is not only my future; it is also my life, the lifeline to my future, and my future.

I have no future left.

Emerging Future Threats in the Region

Because water from the Murray–Darling Basin is readily available, the Goulburn region, which is located in the state of Victoria, has earned the nickname "fruit bowl."

Farmers were concerned about the region's prospects due to the high cost of water, which averaged around 500 dollars per megaliter.

This was formerly referred to as the fruit dish. To paraphrase Mr. Campanelli: "The current climate circumstances are very similar to those of the Dust Bowl."

I feel bad for the people who live in this region. The situation is far more dire for the other dairy farmers than it is for me.

Closed sigh outside the 'Big Cherry' farm in Wyuna

Many local orchardists felt similarly concerned that the region's high water costs would not abate any time soon.

Similarly, Peter Hall, who runs an orchard outside Shepparton in north-east Victoria, felt that the present price of water was unsustainable for most Victorian farmers. Between five and seven megaliters per hectare is what we utilise, he explained.

You do the math on that, you're probably going to pay an extra $300 to $400 a megalitre on what we consider to be a normal price for 100 per cent allocation," he added, referring to the orchard's size of 300 hectares. It wasn't simply orchardists who were having financial difficulties.

Dairy farmer Russell Pell served for nine years on the Murray-Darling Basin Community Committee and currently resides in Wyuna, not far from Mr. Campanelli's farm.

When asked who was suffering the most, he responded dairy producers. In his opinion, the dairy business is "truly hurting," Mr. Pell remarked. Yes, output has slowed down. Both the high cost of hay and the rising cost of grain have had a negative impact. There's no doubt that numerous agricultural sectors, including rice, cotton, and crop production, are feeling the pinch. When you go exploring, you won't find many crops.

Bulldozed trees at the Big Cherry farm

Warwick Long, ABC Goulburn Murray

He claimed that the high price of water was a factor in the decline of the economy.

"If dairy farmers aren't producing, then the factories will have to lay off workers," he said.

Why has there been such a dramatic increase in the cost of water?

Mr. Pell has blamed the severe water constraint and the lack of water allocations for farmers in New South Wales for the skyrocketing cost of water.

"It's getting dry out there... Roughly 28% of the Goulburn water, and essentially the same percentage over the rest of the southern linked basin, is owned by the Commonwealth "In his words.

"Given that the seasons are getting drier and we're only using a fraction of the water we need... When you factor in everything that needs to be paid for water, you end up with a number that's somewhere near $400.

In New South Wales, "as soon as you see [zero water allocation] on the general security, or even up to 10 or 15 percent, water is going to be very pricey."

Lisa Neville, the minister for water in Victoria, Australia, has claimed that the recent dry circumstances in the state have also had a major influence.

She explained that because "what's happening right now is a record dry in New South Wales," the state was actively looking to buy water.

"Prices haven't been this high since 2008 and 2009, and that's because the market is finally reflecting the truly unprecedented drought conditions in New South Wales.

There is no extra water in the system, and this year our system is expected to have less allocation and less carryover.

Murray River at Picnic Point, near Mathoura

Ms. Neville acknowledged that the high cost of water was causing financial hardship for many farms in Victoria.

She explained her stance by saying, "It's the reason why I've had such a strong view that we should not have any more water buybacks and why we need to ensure that no further water is taken off our irrigators unless it can be demonstrated that it has a neutral impact on the economy."

She stated that the State Government was continuing to monitor the water system and was doing its best to alleviate the financial load that was placed on farmers.

She stated that "we are continuing to have a look at who are the farmers most under threat." "We are continuing to have a look"

"In an effort to provide assistance in terms of the fixed water prices, all of our water authorities have instituted hardship instalment payment plans.

"We are also looking into the plan to farm investment and engaging with farmers to discuss their business plan going forwards and how we can support them in making decisions."

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