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Closure Of State Forests Affects Grazing Rights

04 November 2010

AUSTRALIA - The Queensland Government will effectively close grazing enterprises across the state if they proceed to shut down more than 1.2 million hectares of state forest, preliminary figures from an AgForce survey reveal.

AgForce CEO Robert Walker said the Department of Environment and Resource Management has advised that some designated state forests will be gazetted as national park to protect biodiversity values and once this happens, stock grazing will be forbidden when current leases and permits expire.

“Preliminary figures from an AgForce survey have revealed the magnitude of this decision, with more than 30 percent of producers who hold State Forest Grazing Permits in the Western Hardwood country saying their businesses could become unviable if the state government does not renew these grazing permits,” Mr Walker said.

“Producers who currently hold permits to run cattle and sheep in these state forests graze an average of 32 per cent of their total stock on this land and if this becomes unavailable, producers will have a huge chunk of their productivity wiped out. “The Queensland Government is short sighted in their decision to erode the sustainability of the vital grazing industry. On one hand they set targets to grow Queensland’s agricultural industry from $13 billion to $34 billion by 2020 but on the other hand, they are introducing restrictions which directly threaten the profitability of agribusiness.”

Mr Walker said producers have told AgForce that losing their grazing permits will be devastating.

“More than 50 per cent of respondents so far have invested more than $50,000 on capital improvements on forest land, a significant investment which would be rendered useless on parts of state forest where permits were no longer available.

“Our survey has also revealed that the loss of their state forest grazing permit will have a high to severe impact on the businesses of 25 per cent of respondents.”

AgForce warns that effective and sustainable land management will be the price if the government takes over management of this land.

“The land is currently being managed against weeds, pests and fire by responsible land owners, but now the responsibility will fall to government to be good neighbours and maintain the land appropriately,” Mr Walker said.

“A recent auditor-general’s report showed that the government does not have the resources to manage current national parks without the extra burden of a further 1.2 million hectares.

“This issue goes much deeper than simple access to land – it will impact the livelihood and future of many producers and communities.

“We will continue to work hard to protect this access for our members, and urge all landholders to share their story with us so we can build a strong and complete case.”

AgForce urges anyone with a state forest grazing permit to complete the five minute survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/stateforestgrazing. Final figures from the AgForce state forest grazing survey will be released in the coming months.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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