native vegetation Agriculture

Labor’s native veg review fails farmers

Thursday 22 December 2016

 

Victorian farmers want easy to navigate native vegetation clearing laws that reward on-farm management and investment.

The review of the native vegetation clearing regulations by the Andrews Labor Government was viewed by farmers as an opportunity to improve current processes.

Instead, Daniel Andrews is using it as another opportunity to glean inner city green votes, putting his own interests ahead of farm productivity and plain old common sense.

For two years now farmers have participated in the engagement process in good faith with a very simple message – the current system isn’t working for us.

But this process appears to have done nothing to promote on-farm management and investment in native vegetation. In fact, the changes tighten clearing regulations by reducing the low risk activity threshold and introduce further complexity.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has failed to stand up for the interests of farmers in this whole process.

The changes and review process demonstrate that this Labor Government cares more for the concerns of inner-city based advocacy groups than those of our hard-working farmers.

Rather than streamlining the process, these changes will make life more difficult for farmers. For instance, a cropping farmer in western Victoria wanting to remove a small number of trees to allow them to use their wider boom spray, cultivator or header front would need to navigate far more red tape than before.

Agriculture in Victoria is changing in order to remain competitive in global markets and to continue to meet consumer demands. This means changes in land use, farming systems, equipment and technology.

It should also mean sensible changes to regulation in support of our farmers and the industries that contribute so much to Victoria’s economy.

Labor talks a lot about adapting to climate change and growing our food and fibre industries. But, despite the rhetoric, when given the opportunity to make it easier for our farmers to farm, the same Ministers cave in to the demands of unaffected green groups.

Farmers asked for common sense law change. What they have received are proposals that unfairly disadvantage farmers who do not have the capacity of governments and developers to navigate complex laws and pay for expensive consultants.

To further disadvantage the farming community, the deadline for feedback to the proposed changes is the start of February.

Departments shut down and run on skeleton staff over Christmas and New Year, and farmers deserve to be spending this time with their families – especially our grain farmers who have been busy harvesting a bumper crop.

Instead, they will be studying the devil in the detail of this draft report.

It feels like another sham consultation period, after which the Government will ram through the demands of the green groups and farmers continue to struggle with unworkable native vegetation regulations.

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