Learn about the Australian cotton industry from the growers that produce the crop.
Gus O'Brien grows cotton at this property at Warren in NSW.
Gus O’Brien, Warren, NSW
“We grow cotton because it gives us the best return for the water we have. I’m not married to cotton; I would grow the next crop if another crop came along that had a better return, I would happily grow it.
“I would happily grow hemp if there was a profit in it and there was a market for it, but right now there’s not.
“Cotton is the best crop to grow on an annual basis because when there’s no water, we don’t grow it. Permanent plantings in this valley just do not work without high security water.
“Due to the drought this year, our acres are down to about half from the last two years, and all the water that we’re using this year is carryover water from 2016 and 2017 allocations.
“We could have grown more acres last year and used all that water, but we chose not to, to try and even out our income and our business and try and maintain our staff numbers.
“Next year we’re not going to be growing any cotton whatsoever if there’s no in-flow into the dam.
“Dryland farming is another big part of our family business, and at the moment, our dryland profile is completely dry; so we’re looking down the barrel of another failed winter crop, and that is our potential to generate any cash-flow for our business.
“I think the biggest misconception about the cotton industry is that a lot of people think we can just take water when it’s on offer, and it’s definitely not the case.
“We’re committed farmers; we do the best with our resources; we make the best use of our water; we strive to always improve our yields and improve our water use efficiency.
“If people believe that we should have irrigation in this country, then cotton clearly has a part in that irrigation process.”