Water

Downstream lament: cotton, it’s so absorbent

9 May 2018

Sue Neales, The Australian
8 May 2018

Proud Mildura resident and ­famous River Murray chef Stefano de Pieri has had enough of watching his local farming communities die as their supply of irrigation water dwindles and the Darling River turns into a dust bowl.

But unlike many along the rivers, de Pieri is not blaming the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan or the Canberra bureaucrats who administer it for the slow shrinking of his beloved river towns and the failure of many of the small battler farms along its banks.

Instead it is the thriving and powerful $2.6bn cotton industry he has in his sights.

De Pieri is at the forefront of mounting calls for a ceiling or planting limits to be put on Australia’s fast-growing irrigated cotton farms, as new varieties of faster-growing cotton allow its tentacles to spread south from its traditional home in northern NSW and southern Queensland deep into the Murray and Murrumbidgee river valleys of southern NSW and northern Victoria.

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