A year on from the last wrangle over management of the famous Wild Dog Fence and NSW producers are back at the table with government to figure out the best way to keep the barrier intact, and ravenous pests away from our livestock.
Hard-hitting drought conditions are factoring in to discussion over whether rates will increase above the maximum 5.5 cents per hectare.
And while consultation between farmers, farm groups and government is ongoing, all parties seem to agree one thing: Animal husbandry in NSW would be decimated if the fence was allowed to fall.
“There are three options on the table but the first one, not having the fence, is not an option,” Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling president Lachlan Gall said.
- Off the fence: Wild Dog Destruction Board resists LLS merger
- New wild dog tech: Real-time, solar-powered, species-specific alerts
Those three options are necessitated by the lapse of the BFM Regulation 2009 on September 1, which sets out the annual rates payable to maintain the fence, the form in which rate notices are to be issued, and savings and formal matters.
One option includes allowing the amendment, and management of the fence itself, to lapse.
"Maintaining the border fence is vital to prevent dogs entering and roaming freely in NSW,” a Department of Industry spokeswoman said this week.
"Wild dogs can have a significant financial impact on pastoralists, the NSW grazing industry and the environment by killing and maiming livestock and native animals.”
Option two is to remake the 2009 Regulation without amendment, maintaining a 5.5 cent per hectare maximum rate for landholders.
Landholders on 1000ha or more who border the 600km fence have been contributing around 5 cents per hectare to pay Border Fence Maintenance Board staff to conduct routine weekly inspections and maintenance. Government chips in the rest.
Private landholders account for 80pc of the land the fence goes through, with around 130km also bordering the Sturt National Park.
Drought conditions are hitting producers hard and the prospect of option three, to remake the regulation and amending the maximum rating amount, is understandably not a popular one.
Department of Industry has stressed no change in management is currently proposed.
"The Government wants to minimise the cost to individual landholders and believes keeping the maximum rate at 5.5 cents per hectare a year balances the requirement for funds for the maintenance of the border fence with the tough conditions faced by some farmers,” it said.
Government is consulting on the 2018 Regulation and will consider all submissions before making a final recommendation.