A primary producer-driven field day being in held at Banana in central Queensland today proves farmers can look after the environment without the State Government watching over their shoulder wielding a big stick.
Around 100 producers attended the field day, organised by fourth-generation beef producer Jim Becker on his 7,500-acre property, Glenarchy.
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said the producers eagerly engaged in discussion with Jim and a range of industry experts, including noted botanist Murray Otto, about the Conservation Management Act (CMA) and how they can protect rare and threatened species while maintaining the productivity (and value) of their land.
“The CMA is a heavy-handed piece of legislation based on completely flawed science and mapping and enforced by whopping penalties to try and force producers to do something they are already doing,” Michael said.
“All it does is make it harder and more expensive to farm, ties producers in constrictive red and green tape, and lowers property values.
“You can see by the number of producers here today that it isn’t necessary. They are here because they want to be. They’ve organised this day because they care about the environment, and in this case, a particular species of plant.
“The field day is not a Government initiative, in fact there was no Government involvement whatsoever.”
The species at the centre of the day was the solanum johsonianum, a rare flowering plant discovered near Jim’s property on the verge of the Burnett Highway.
Jim said he was determined to save the plant even though it wasn’t found on his property.
“I love the area – I love the land, and I organised this field day because I want to propagate and distribute this species further to ensure it is around when my children farm this country,” he said.
“They will be the fifth generation of Beckers in the Dawson Valley.
“However, the CMA which enshrines a two-kilometre protection radius have stopped me from farming large sections of my land where the plant isn’t even growing,” Jim said.
“If I want to farm there now I have to employ a botanist and seek an exemption – and that’s going to cost me a lot of time and money.
“I’d like to be proactive and get in front of the game in terms of environmental protection if I can.
“If I do end up trying to encourage further growth of the plant, I’ll have to apply for a permit, and after that there’s no guarantee the Government won’t hit me with even more protections.
Images from the field day and interviews with Michael Guerin and Jim Becker can be downloaded from Dropbox: