Politicians are pushing for environmental water entitlements to be sold to struggling farmers.

“We must begin to investigate whether to immediately access environmental water flows for fodder crop production in the southern tablelands to keep breeding herds alive,” NSW MP Pru Goward said in parliament last week.

“The issue requires urgent consideration.”

Federal MP Sussan Ley wants the authorities to release 500GL of environmental water in storage for the southern basin.

“With at least 500GL of environmental water in storage in the southern connected basin, it is perfectly possible to ‘borrow’ some of that water to finish winter crops and grow fodder for the drought,” she said.

But the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) says there is a very delicate balance between farmers and the environment during drought.

“The Basin Plan prepares us for dry times by ensuring that available water is shared across all water users, including irrigators and the river environment,” Andrew Reynolds, director of river management, said.

“When irrigators are short of water, environmental water holders are short of water too — they both have the same type of licences.”

The MDBA recently issued its latest plan for the Murray.