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Green Laws Choke Farmers

19 March 2012

AUSTRALIA - A new report released by broadacre farm group AgForce shows producers across a large area of Queensland are facing an overwhelming web of environmental controls on their activities.

AgForce CEO Robert Walker said the report is timely given the Bligh government’s election promise to create a massive wildlife corridor under her “Border to the Beach” policy.

“That policy was the last straw for many farmers who feel they have already made strong progress in adopting sustainable land management practices and feel discouraged those efforts aren’t recognised. Understandably they are asking where this will all end?

“AgForce doesn’t pretend all landholders are environmental saints, and we admit a minority of producers still need to be ‘converted’ to a greener way of thinking.

“But policies like the ‘green belt’ give the impression that the only way to protect biodiversity is to lock agricultural production out of the landscape, but the best environmental outcomes are achieved by government’s working hand-in-hand with producers.”

Mr Walker said such plans could destroy the environmental values they seek to protect.

“Our report shows governments run a strong risk of drowning primary producers in paperwork, increasing their costs due to regulation, and limiting the amount of time and money they have environmental measures. “You can add as much land as you like in national parks but without proper management biodiversity is actually harmed when weeds and feral animals run wild.”

Mr Walker said politicians - and not just the ALP - have introduced layer upon layer of overlapping, duplicative and complex regulatory systems over the past decade that deliver dubious environment outcomes.

On top of that producers are also controlled by a range of Federal legislation such as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act and water regulation of the Murray Darling.

“Each of these layers fails to consider the previous regulatory layer resulting in a confusing, complex web of codes, regulations and legislation that producers are forced to interpret and apply on-ground.

“And these are just the laws that apply in areas where producers are still allowed to farm, let alone the measures that remove agricultural production from the landscape altogether.”

The AgForce report highlights that since 2001 almost 1.5 million hectares of new National Park has been gazetted, with 11.6 per cent of the state set to be designated “Protected Area” by 2020, with much of that likely to be created through forced acquisitions.

“Add to that the planned removal of grazing from an estimated 1.2 million hectares of State Forests and the figures are really stacking up - and we haven’t even considered the loss of country and productivity due to coal mining and coal seam gas production,” said Mr Walker.

AgForce is urging for balance to be restored to the environmental debate, and for food and fibre production to be considered alongside conservation ideals.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

TheCropSite News Desk



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