Solid evidence to support biodiversity change

Try talking about the current biodiversity reforms and the increasing temperature in the room is palpable. It’s a culmination of years of frustration that farmers have felt on this issue. But my greatest fear on this issue is that our message will not be heard if we don’t manage our frustration throughout this important reform process.

For our members and rural communities, these reforms are crucial and we can’t afford to squander this opportunity.
 
Importantly we have a valid argument and solid evidence to support where change is needed. Our position is backed by a report undertaken by the Independent Biodiversity Review Panel. 
 
The need for reform has also been recognised by both the Liberal and National Parties prior to the 2015 election and is embedded in the joint MOU between us and the government.
 
The new draft biodiversity laws are expected to be released next month for public consultation and NSW Farmers on behalf of our grassroots members is involved in targeted consultation on proposed changes.
 
Whilst we can’t turn the clock back to before the Act was introduced, we can use this opportunity to seek practical improvements to the perverse outcomes the current Act has on farming practices. We are not seeking self-regulation of all clearing on all farms. We want a balanced approach that places trust in farmers and regulates only when necessary.
 
Our job is to put the best interests of farmers and rural communities at our heart. But a balance needs to be struck between farmers, the community and the environment.
 
Our association and our industry has the best chance in 20 years to make changes to the Act and end up with something that is workable on farm and allows for balanced and reasonable vegetation management.
 
Let’s not mess this up. Let’s continue to demonstrate who we are - good managers of our land who care about our environment, want to produce food and fibre and can illustrate that parts of the Act are simply unworkable and where we can be the source of solutions.

By Derek Schoen, President
Column in The Land newspaper 4th February 2016

Contact: NSW Farmers

Phone: 1300 794 000

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