Almond grower goFARM snaps up Katunga dairy farms

ONE of Australia’s largest corporate almond growers — goFarm — is snapping up dairy farms at Katunga in the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District.

One prominent Katunga dairy farmer, who recently sold his property to goFarm, said the company wanted access to groundwater from the local deep-lead aquifer and had also bought his low reliability water shares.

“Locally I think it’s common knowledge goFarm is buying properties around here,” the Katunga farmer said. “There’s plenty more.”

The Weekly Times contacted goFarm managing director Liam Lenaghan, who denied the company had bought any properties in the area.

“I’ve heard lots of stories about all sorts of things, most of them are untrue,” Mr Lenaghan said.

But within two hours of asking Mr Lenaghan about the purchase of Katunga properties, the dairy farmer was contacted by goFarm and warned his contract demanded neither party make public details of the sale.

Victorian Farmers Federation water council chairman Richard Anderson said it made sense for goFarm to buy properties with groundwater on the Katunga deep lead and gain access to Murray River entitlement above the Barmah choke.

“Good luck to them,” Mr Anderson said. “Groundwater gives them drought resistance.”

GoFarm already has 12,000ha under development below the choke, in the Sunraysia, at Boundary Bend and at Balranald.

Water corporations and Victorian Government policy makers warned almond, tablegrape and citrus developers across the NSW, Victorian and South Australian Mallee faced major delivery shortfalls as river managers struggled to push an ever-growing amount of water through the choke to meet horticulture’s peak-summer demand.

Last August the Victorian Water Register estimated horticultural demand for water, below the choke, would increase by 400,000 megalitres over the next 5-10 years.