18 Nov 2011

Claim proposed water charges would send farmers bust

6:59 am on 18 November 2011

A Canterbury arable farmer says irrigation water charges proposed by the Labour and Green Parties could force farms to close or convert to dairying.

Federated Farmers mid-Canterbury grain and seed chair David Clarke confronted Labour Party leader Phil Goff at the Federated Farmers' national council meeting.

He said under Labour's policy, the water charge on his property would be $234,000 per annum and the only way he could pay that would be to convert arable land to dairying.

Labour leader Phil Goff responded that there are two people who can pay for the supply of irrigation water, those who use it and profit from it or the taxpayer.

He said it's a user-pays approach.

Mr Goff says whether a plant is industrial or agricultural, if a resource is being used for a person's benefit and for their commercial viability and profit, the first person that should be looked to to pay for it is the person who's using it.