Restrictive vegetation management laws must change so that Farmers can keep feeding Aussie families

Restrictive vegetation management laws must change so that Farmers can keep feeding Aussie families
Tuesday, 5 Mar 2019

AgForce is currently in discussions with both the Queensland State Government and the Federal Government advocating amendment of restrictive vegetation management laws making it harder and more expensive for farmers to grow food.

The current laws impose restrictions on how farmers manage their land to produce food, shut down new agricultural development and lead to perverse environmental outcomes that could damage rather than improve regional landscapes.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the laws must change if Queensland farmers are to keep feeding families throughout Australia.

“The AgForce policy has always been that the ‘landscape needs to be managed.’ Landholders understand that the uncontrolled regrowth and restricted access for weed control brought about by the Vegetative Management Act creates ‘feral landscapes’ that are a harbour for pest animals and plants and can become severe fire risks,” he said.

The laws were widely criticised for contributing to the ferocity of wildfires in Central Queensland at the end of 2018 which resulted in the loss of over 520,000 hectares, decimating valuable timber resources and killing millions of wildlife species.

The impacts were much worse than they would have been due to the limited management of state lands, which includes limited management of the landscape, poor access and the build-up of fuel loads to extreme levels caused by not allowing producers to manage fuel loads on their properties or clear adequate fire breaks.

Mr Guerin said the recently released draft Reef Regulations further highlight the need for industry to engage with Government in developing workable solutions, rather than simply reaching for more regulation and red tape.

“If passed into law, the proposed reef bill has the potential for serious impacts on grain growers and graziers across the state.”

AgForce has also previously criticised the State Government for using ‘selective science’ in an attempt to convince the community that its heavy-handed vegetation management laws are necessary.

The Government creatively used data from the annual State Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) report to claim that its Vegetation Management Act (VMA) was required to prevent land clearing for agriculture.

AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said AgForce had pushed for the Government’s new-found commitment to “enhancing the scope of SLATS and vegetation information to support evidence-based decision-making”.

“We have been arguing for years that Government scientists should have the resources they need to examine how much vegetation is growing in Queensland not just how much is being cleared,” she said.

"AgForce has always said we are willing to engage in a scientific, evidence-based approach to vegetation management that examines all the facts, including how much vegetation has regrown and why vegetation was being managed.”

“Farmers want fair, workable laws to grow more food, create more jobs and look after the environment. Farmers love and care for their land as much as anyone, and they know how to manage it responsibly, so you have to wonder why the Palaszczuk Government wants to make their jobs more difficult.

“That’s why we’re calling on the Government to amend these flawed laws as quickly as possible and instead work on a long-lasting solution that delivers good outcomes for both agriculture and the environment.”


Media Contacts: David Vogler 0418 733 102  |  Hannah Leu 0427 626 853

 

Restrictive vegetation management laws must change so that Farmers can keep feeding Aussie families

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