THE recent announcement of job losses at SunRice has led to some pointing the finger of blame at the cotton industry.
Late last month, SunRice announced said it would be cutting up to 100 jobs from its Leeton and Deniliquin mills due to the predicted severely reduced rice crop next year.
The company said low allocations and high water prices were two of the main factors hurting the industry at the moment, resulting in the subsequent job cuts.
Others in the community, particularly on social media, have been quick to point the finger at the cotton industry.
One such comment on The Irrigator’s Facebook page from a reader was “rice feeds nations … cotton feeds nobody and chemicals used are detrimental to health”.
Southern Cotton general manager Kate O’Callaghan said she hadn’t heard any comments directly, but did read some on social media saying the job losses were “cotton’s fault”.
“It is a major mission at Southern Cotton in our education and tours to educate people on the efficiency and innovation of all our irrigated systems across all crops,” she said.
“It is a misconception that I hear every day - that we shouldn’t be growing crops in this area.
“Many visitors and even locals have no knowledge of the fact that we are allocated (or not) water and can only grow crops with the water available.
“In a dry year like this and, with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, we have only got 7 per cent allocation.
“Cotton plantings are also down 37 per cent on last year due to water allocation/temporary water prices.
“There is only 44,435 hectares in the Bidgee this year compared to 66,850 hectares last year.”
Mrs O’Callaghan said it was tough times for all growers.
“You can sell your water and make a much greater return than planting a rice crop,” she said.
“Cotton commodity – lint and seed – prices have been high and growers are still putting in cotton because the return is there.
“However, hectares are still reduced across all crops due to water restrictions.”
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