Local businesses are being denied the chance to employ people, including apprentices, let alone expand their operation.
Those in the agricultural sector are most affected, but they are certainly not the only ones suffering from reduced farm income throughout the NSW Murray region.
A business which continues the see the stark reality of less production in the region is Taskers Deniliquin which has been operating for almost 90 years.
Third generation owner Jamie Tasker has seen the impact of reduced water for food and fibre production in recent times.
This impact was highlighted by a report released this month which estimated the cost at the farm gate of removing water from productive use in the NSW Murray is $120 million per year.
But it’s worth a lot more than that to the local community, especially when the multiplier effect is considered.
Jamie Tasker points out that less production means there is less money being spent in town on contractors, fertiliser and chemical distribution companies, truck operators carting grain and a whole host of other businesses.
“With less money from production there are less people employed on farm and past the farm gate, so there are less families buying groceries, clothes or going out for a meal.
“A vast range of businesses supplying all imaginable goods and services are forced to suffer. It’s not just those directly involved in the agricultural sector,” Mr Tasker said.
He pointed out that with less available jobs there is population decline, which leads to fewer school students and therefore fewer teachers. There can also be an impact on the range of health services and number of doctors.
“The list is never-ending. And what for? Where is the unequivocal scientific evidence that proves the amount of water taken from productive use for the environment is needed?
“The unfortunate and stark reality, as everyone with a thorough knowledge of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan knows, is that this is a political plan and we are pawns caught in a political game.
“It’s all about green votes, especially in marginal city seats. As a nation, we should be ashamed that our politicians are allowed to treat hard working farmers, as well as the communities which rely on them, in this way,” Mr Tasker said.
He sees it first hand from the perspective of his own business.
“We’ve been unable to follow through with plans to expand the business and employ more apprentices.
“The $120 million reduction in agricultural productivity directly affects businesses like ours as we rely on farmers having machinery serviced and buying new equipment. With nearly a third less water in the district production is down, flowing onto businesses like ours.”
Mr Tasker said he did not need to read stage one of the socio-economic report released last week to tell him there was a dramatic downfall in regional production.
“We noticed it well before the study told us what is evident to anyone who is prepared to take an open and honest look at what is happening which, unfortunately, many of our politicians and the bureaucrats who advise them are not prepared to do.
“What we really notice is that now, even with good conditions, the region has less water and cannot produce the quantities of food that it did in the past. In drier years, there is even less water going into production and the affect is quite profound,” Mr Tasker said.
He has discussed the issue with Speak Up campaign spokesperson Shelley Scoullar, who runs a rice farm at Mayrung.
She said an additional issue that was becoming more apparent was the increasing costs associated with running an irrigation farm, as a result of changes that have taken place under the Basin Plan.
“The big picture impacts to our community really concerns me, the other issue that is front and centre is the cost being passed on to those left in the system. With nearly a third less water in the system fees and charges have increased to keep the system of water delivery operational.
“Those of us who remain are paying more, and this has a further flow-on impact to our community. It’s a viscous cycle that we need to break,” Mrs Scoullar said.