Queensland is currently experiencing a re-emergence of sheep and goat producers in the state’s south west thanks to a successful cluster fencing initiative funded by the QLD and Commonwealth government.
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The successful scheme operates by offering subsidies for the cost of fencing materials up to a limit of $2,700 per kilometre.
So far two rounds of project funding have resulted in the erection of 2,500 kilometres of fencing, protecting 175 properties over an area of 1 million hectares.
Once the cluster fencing scheme is finished it’s anticipated by 2025 merino numbers in South West QLD will reach 1 million, an increase of 500 per cent from current numbers.
The success of the QLD project shows a similar scheme could be rolled out in western NSW, something NSW Farmers Association has been advocating.
In the 2018/19 NSW state budget submissions the association requested the Berejiklian Government commit $4 million over four years to build cluster fences in the west of the state.
The current drought conditions in NSW have caused hungry wild dogs to increasingly target livestock, making now the best time to invest in cluster fencing to protect our vulnerable stock.
Once the drought breaks and farms in western regions of NSW restock with goats and sheep, it is imperative that the flock herd can rebuild within the safety of cluster fencing.
Without cluster fencing the $400 million worth of goats and sheep in western NSW will be unprotected from wild dogs, leaving producers exposed to financial losses.
In the lead up to the state and federal elections it’s essential all parties recognise the significant financial and emotional impact of wild dogs, costing NSW agriculture $89 million each year.
Politicians should look to QLD to see the positive effect of cluster fencing. To build on works being undertaken by graziers in the fight to manage wild dogs, it’s time for the NSW government to take action and replicate the success of the QLD cluster fence scheme.
- Katie Davies is chair of the NSW Farmers Goat Committee.