Farming conditions 'best in living memory'

ON balance, Vacy farmer David Williams says conditions along the Paterson River are the best in living memory.

The rain has come at the right time and there has not been too much of it to cause damage.

That means he does not need to irrigate, which means his power use will be down.

Less electricity use on the Williams’ farm can help to reduce the indirect costs associated with the carbon tax, which the family will have to confront.

All of those factors will help enormously because the price of milk is going down.

‘‘The weather has meant the difference between making a profit or a loss,’’ Mr Williams said.

While the nation marked carbon tax Sunday on July 1, farmers on the regulated sections of the Hunter and Paterson rivers and Glennies Creek observed the date as the beginning of their 2012-13 water year.

In years of drought, such as 2006 to 2008, water allocations by the NSW Office of Water were a cause for anxiety.

In these days of plenty, all users of surface and underground water, and high security consumers, such as Macquarie Generation, and general security licence holders will receive 100per cent of their entitlements.

Mr Williams has a licence to use about 1000megalitres a year irrigating his pastures to ensure feed for his 700-strong dairy herd.

‘‘I last irrigated about three months ago to get the [pasture] seed up,’’ he said.

‘‘It is a reasonably big expense because of the electricity.’’

Mr Williams believes the carbon tax could add $10,000 to his power bill.

‘‘During the past 12 months, it has been one of the best seasons we have had, perhaps the best in living memory,’’ he said. ‘‘I can’t believe it.’’

Weighing up all the uncertainties of farming – weather, carbon tax, milk prices – Mr Williams said the natural environment had been the star performer.

‘‘Milk prices are back 9per cent on last year and I received a letter warning to expect downward prices for the next 12 months,’’ he said.

More than 1400 water allocation licences operate along the regulated parts of the Hunter River and about 150 along the Paterson River.

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