Food prices 'to soar' under Murray-Darling plan

Australian consumers could be hit with soaring food and clothing prices under plans to severely cut water allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin.

In a recently released proposal, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has outlined plans to cut up to 37 per cent from irrigators' water allotments as part of its responsibility to "restore balance" to some of the country's most productive agricultural areas, the Daily Telegraph reported.

While the authority is aiming to save native birds, fish and trees by raising the environmental water flow from 58 per cent to 67-70 per cent, farming groups have slammed the proposals and suggested that supermarket prices will go up as agricultural production falls and jobs are lost.

"They have put environmental flows ahead of food security, which is disgusting," Farmers Association vice-president Peter Darley told the newspaper. "The cuts will push the price of food up but by how much only time will tell. But retailers will certainly capitalise on this."

Consumers struggling with debt problems and the rising living costs could choose to compare debit cards in search of better options. News of such potential price rises comes after an investigation by the Herald Sun discovered that electricity and water bills in Victoria are up by an average of 45 to 60 per cent on five years ago while gas is 20 per cent higher.

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