VFF urges farmers to complete water market transparency survey

By Rodney Woods

The VFF is warning against potential changes to water market rules that would expose commercially sensitive information to water speculators and personal details that put farmers’ security at risk.

DELWP has launched a survey on what level of personal information irrigators are comfortable with being released about their water ownership, use and management practices.

Suggested information to be published includes home addresses, a map of where water is used and how much water is currently in their water accounts.

VFF president David Jochinke said any move to publish farmers’ personal information would see them at risk to groups who oppose irrigated agriculture.

“A balance must be struck between privacy and transparency,” he said.

“Making personal information public will expose farmers across the state to animal rights activists as well as environmental groups who oppose irrigated agriculture and want to examine irrigators’ water use and individual farms’ efficiency.”

Mr Jochinke encouraged farmers to have their say and urged them to think deeply about what information they and their neighbours want exposed.

“The VFF is urging all farmers with an interest in water to complete the government's survey,” he said.

“Farmers across Australia know all too well the dangers of publicising personal data in light of their recent exposure to animal rights activists through the Aussie Farms website.

“Farmers shouldn’t have to risk their security in order to get water market transparency.”

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said the VFF supported changes to water market rules to expose large water traders who try to manipulate the market.

“In fact, we have put forward 20 recommendations to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to improve water market transparency,” Mr Anderson said.

“However, we cannot support changes that would expose commercially sensitive information to water traders and speculators.

“Our bank account balances are considered as strictly private and the VFF considers that it is critical that farmers’ water allocation account balances should be treated the same way.”

Mr Anderson said only large water users should be forced disclose information on the water they use.

Farmers can access the survey and further information by visiting: www.engage.vic.gov.au/water-market-transparency

The survey closes on Tuesday, June 30.