Farmers urge parliament to support heartland issue

NSW Farmers is calling on NSW parliamentarians to support their regional constituents and vote in favour of native vegetation amendments due for debate in NSW Parliament this week.

NSW Farmers’ President Fiona Simson said this was a heartland issue for farmers right across NSW.

“The Native Vegetation Amendment Bill makes a relatively small number of straightforward changes to the way native vegetation is managed on farms,” she said.

“The changes proposed won’t fix everything but the opportunity to make these changes should not be overlooked. Support for some of these small concessions from parliamentarians would signify a major step forward for farmers and send a signal to farmers that their elected representatives are listening. 

“At the moment, farmers are prevented from acting in the best interests of both the environment and their businesses. They can’t manage invasive species, effectively prepare for drought or develop new farming country. Native vegetation management is curtailed to the most extreme degree and these prohibitions are not always in the best interests of biodiversity or the broader environment.

“Take for example the definition of broad-scale clearing as it is currently framed in legislation. Broad-scale clearing can mean the removal of a single plant. This is just ridiculous by anyone’s measure and this Bill presents an opportunity to correct it.

“Farmers value and rely upon native vegetation on-farm. Farmers undertake extensive conservation works. It is not in their best interests to degrade biodiversity on-farm. But they need the freedom to make sensible land use decisions, taking into account our varying climate and seasonal conditions.

“Over 100 million hectares of Australian farmland (20%) has been converted into conservation reserves over the past 40 years. We have shouldered a lot of this cost and it’s unfair to assume that we can continue to carry this burden on behalf of the community unassisted.

“I think everybody from the high-rises in Sydney to outback Bourke appreciates our clean green reputation as food and fibre producers. It is time for our elected representatives and the community to demonstrate their support for us on this one,” Ms Simson concluded.

ends

3 November 2014

Contact: Adair Moar

Phone: 02 9478 1073

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