Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Opinion
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On energy, native vegetation and bio-security

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Acacia Rose says farmers should get into generating energy as fast as they can, any way they can.

Acacia Rose says farmers should get into generating energy as fast as they can, any way they can.

Bring on ‘Agri-energy’ 

IF I were a farmer anywhere in Australia I would immediately scope renewable energy generation opportunities – solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol production – even on a small or medium scale. 

The way forwards for agriculture is a mixed “agri-energy economy” combining the best that the land, agricultural science and technology can offer for a sustainable future.

Acacia Rose,

Snowy Mountains. 

Native veg nightmare 

THE so-called “New Framework” for land management and biodiversity in NSW is a complicated nightmare. 

It is disappointing that this is the product received from a coalition state government.

The new regime consists of the following:

  • Local Land Services Amendment Act
  • Biodiversity Conservation Act
  • Local Land Services Amendment Regulation
  • Land Management Codes
  • Government Gazette Notice setting out the Interim Grasslands and Groundcover Assessment Method
  • The Regulatory Mapping

A landholder must ensure compliance with the above instruments when vegetation is removed or managed on a private land holding.

The new framework fails to achieve its objective of reducing the regulatory burden on landholders in relation to land management.

Indeed the new framework is riddled with red tape and compliance requirements which may result in landholders refusing to engage in the over regulated and complicated system which is now in force.

As a solicitor based in North-West NSW I often face the difficult task of defending otherwise good and decent farmers who are prosecuted for alleged illegal land clearing.

I am concerned that the new framework will result in an increase in prosecutions against decent hard working farmers who have unwittingly breached a complicated system which is riddled with red tape.

BRENDAN MOYLAN,

Moree.    

Long-term cropping

I WAS dismayed to read Jamie Brown’s article, (“Native forestry fights for fair go under law reform”, The Land, September 5, page 7).

This is simply more evidence of the NSW government not only failing to show any real interest in agro-forestry, but abdicating its responsibility to a bureaucracy that is not responsible to the public.

Trees grown on farms can have both economic and environmental benefits.

Economic benefits flow from the crop having value, which can be realised during lean years.

This can reduce the requirements for governments to chip-in with hardship payments.

And environmental benefits flow from controlling dry land salinity and erosion, providing increased habitat and improving soils through both microbial activity and increases in organic content.

Trees on the agricultural landscape also offer livestock shelter and improved survival conditions for young lambs and cattle.

Planted trees on private land are quite simply a crop, albeit a long-rotation one, and should be treated as such.

Farmers and graziers should be encouraged to incorporate trees onto their property.

And they should be encouraged to seek advice on the economics of doing so.

Every government regulation, licence or permit comes with a cost.

For trees planted on private land, which may not realise significant economic benefit for 20 years, long-term investment costs can be substantial – even when considering the environmental offsets. 

It becomes obvious that policy settings are askew when landowners start to question if the environmental benefits are worth the onerous compliance requirements.

Restrictions on thinning, which is a normal crop management process and onerous restrictions on harvesting trees planted for timber are a step too far.

Governments should be looking to encourage farm forestry not bury it in red tape.

It is time for rural MP’s to step-up and advocate on behalf of their constituents, the real managers of the environment.

Don’t leave it to bureaucrats who are answerable to no-one for the folly of their advice.

NIGEL CATCHLOVE,

Yass.

Bio-secure?

THE Australian Cattle Industry Council calls on Animal Health Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia to unlock biosecurity plans from Livestock Production Assurance so they are not mandatory.

The Cattle Council of Australia with AHA forced this system on cattle producers without consultation. They designed a seven-page form with 39 questions expecting they would cover all cattle-raising regions across Australia. This is not practical.

Biosecurity is important in cattle production and our members manage this as they manage their properties. It can be improved. 

However, to tie biosecurity plans to LPA makes them mandatory, as processors won’t accept stock for slaughter without an LPA number.

The unnecessary haste in the introduction is unsettling. 

Biosecurity plans should be voluntary and explained to our members and implemented over time so they understand their benefits. Plans will vary greatly over Australia’s diverse cattle-producing regions.

Now as CCA, MLA and AHA move about the nation spending cattle producers’ levies to explain the form, they are unable to answer producers’ questions. 

A meeting in Wagga Wagga got heated as annoyed producers bemoaned lack of consultation and a lack of answers. 

This new red tape is forced on us by our representative bodies – supposed to advocate on our behalf.  It is not government legislating change, but our own people. CCA decided this should be enforced on cattle producers. 

Once again CCA has failed its members and our industry. Justin Toohey as adviser to CCA’s animal health and welfare committee is the person responsible for this unnecessary and disruptive attack on our members’ businesses.

CCA should listen to industry responses from biosecurity awareness workshops and accept its mistakes.  ACIC calls on CCA president Howard Smith to immediately unlock the Biosecurity Plans from LPA. Industry can then introduce a manageable plan over time to encourage cattle producers to adopt on-farm practices to reduce disease risk.

John Gunthorpe

Australian Cattle Industry Council

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