Friday, July 22, 2016

Another giveaway for farmers

Marlborough District Council is currently considering a water transfer mechanism to allow more efficient use of water. But there's a problem: it might lead to greedy farmers selling water:

A new proposal to share water between rural landowners could lead to people cashing in on their water-short neighbours.

The enhanced water transfer proposal would allow for the free transfer of water between Marlborough farmers and grapegrowers without having to apply for a lengthy and costly resource consent process.

Grapegrowers in the region say the move would unlock water that was allocated but unused, cut bureaucracy and boost economic development.

But there are fears it could lead to water being bought and sold, with the council having no powers to stop it.

Which wouldn't be a problem if they were paying for it in the first place. But they're not. Water is free, an implicit subsidy to our rapacious agricultural industry. Allowing consent-holders to onsell it would be effectively privatising a public resource, and channelling the profits into the hands of farmers rather than the public. And that's just not acceptable.

Though "privatising a public resource and channelling the profits into the hands of farmers rather than the public" is effectively what happens ATM, its just that they sell milk or wine rather than water. But they're externalising the cost of a key input, getting it for free from the public. And that's not acceptable either. Farmers use our water for commercial purposes, and they should pay for that. Anything less, and we're effectively letting them steal from us.