Two farmers are contesting a seat on the Murray Irrigation Ltd board on a joint ticket against the renominating chairman, Phillip Snowden.
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Changes: Construction work in the Murray Irrigation region, where board elections will be held next month.

Lachlan Marshall and Waander Van Beek will contest the election, which opens on September 1 and closes on September 22.

Lachlan Marshall operates Yurunga Farms and holds an Advanced Diploma in Agribusiness.

In 2018, Mr Marshall was elected as an inaugural executive member of the Murray Regional Strategy Group and is now the deputy chair.

“I am tired of losing neighbours — who are good farmers and cornerstones of this dynamic region — because their farms have become unviable due to reduced water allocations,” he said.

“I am determined to fight to ensure more are not left in the wake of poor policy decisions.’’

Mr Marshall believes Murray Irrigation Ltd needs to be the leader in water advocacy.

He also sees a lack of transparency and accountability to the MIL shareholders.

He wants to lead a cultural change at the company, where MIL respects and works on behalf of its shareholders and refers to them as such, rather than seeing its shareholders as ‘customers’.

Mr Marshall said Landholder Association concerns were being ignored by MIL.

Renominating board member Phillip Snowden said he wanted to ensure ongoing board stability and performance so they can restore confidence, prosperity and — most importantly — return water to the region.

“Over the next four years we will face the review of the basin plan in 2024,” Mr Snowden said.

“It will be absolutely critical that to address the third party impacts we are experiencing and to influence the outcomes of this process we will need stability and respect within the Murray Irrigation board and unity in our region.

“The board of Murray Irrigation, management and external consultants have put a lot of serious time, thought and resourcing into our agreed strategy and I absolutely stand by it.

“Our job at Murray Irrigation is first and foremost, to maintain our infrastructure so we can deliver your water accurately, on time and when you want it.

“This is done with a key focus on maximising the efficiency of our water resources as a company — to reward you, our shareholders, with multiple benefits for farming within Murray Irrigation.”

Mr Snowden said Murray Irrigation had commissioned a new channel control system that focused on best possible delivery and maximum efficiency while keeping costs down and coping with the variability of allocations and volumes delivered.

“We also have a focus on infrastructure maintenance that can easily be neglected during difficult times,” he said.

Waander Van Beek was elected to the Murray Irrigation Ltd board in 2018 and is seeking re-election.

A former dairy farmer, in 2003 the family sold the dairy and purchased a mixed irrigation farm.

Mr Van Beek has served on several boards. He was elected to Berrigan Shire Council and served six years, including two as shire president. He is the chair of Cow Bank Pty Ltd and a director of the Dairy Farm Land Management Company.

He stood for election to the MIL board because he believes the largest privately owned irrigation system in the country is not being utilised to its potential for food production and creating economic wealth.

Mr Van Beek said he had worked hard to influence the company’s direction.

He is focused on improving water allocations and implementing strategies to ensure water prices are at affordable levels.

To achieve this goal he believes there needs to be fundamental shifts in MIL’s approach to advocacy.

He said there needed to be critical change in the relationship between MIL as a company and its shareholders, and he sees an overwhelming need to rebuild trust and collaboration.

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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