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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Biosecurity threat to future of farms and regions

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Biosecurity threat to future of farms and regions

Biosecurity threat to future of farms and regions

Plans to grow a strong future for agriculture will fly out the window if state and federal governments fail to recognise biosecurity as a top priority.

NSW Farmers is again urging governments to secure a pest- and disease-free future. With Biosecurity Chair Ian McColl saying a long-term funding model and robust response plan was key in the fight against emergent threats.

“One of the main assets of the Australian agricultural sector is our so-called ‘clean and green’ status,” Mr McColl said.

“It’s what drives demand for our food and fibre globally and it is basically why our produce carries a high premium here and overseas.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the state and federal governments’ funding commitments to biosecurity over recent years, but biosecurity is not a ‘tick and flick’ issue, and we need surety there is a long-term and sustainable model in place to bolster our defences against incursions.”

One example of a long-term funding model was a container levy, which NSW Farmers had been supportive of due to its potential to improve biosecurity measures. For a very small fee, state and federal governments could strengthen our borders against disease and pests.

Mr McColl said a single, widespread disease outbreak could cause billions of dollars in economic loss, not to mention extensive damage to our agricultural and native plants and animals.

“If we had a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak it would have a huge impact and shut down many exports overnight,” he said.

“This would have a major flow-on effect in our regional and rural communities and cost the Australian economy an estimated $50 billion over 10 years.

“We recently saw two live-rooted rose plants intercepted in Sydney; they had the potential to bring in a disease that would infect vineyards and could potentially decimate our wine industry.

“The threat of African swine fever continues to loom large over our pork industry, and regular detection of contaminated pork products at our borders highlights the real risk we face of an incursion.”

The CSIRO has warned of the increasing risk of disease outbreaks over coming decades and is urging Australia to adapt its biosecurity model, and Mr McColl said we as a nation must take meaningful action before it is too late.

“There’s no second chances when it comes to biosecurity,” Mr McColl said.

“We need to strengthen our borders against threats, and we need to ensure the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services are adequately resourced to respond to pest and disease outbreaks.”

Northern Rivers & Rural News

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

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Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Trailblazing women join together to discuss breaking bias on International Women’s Day 2022

Landcare Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment are bringing together a formidable group of women for a conversation about their challenges and triumphs.

In an online panel event on International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Kerstie Lee will lead the discussion, focussing on this year’s theme – #BreakTheBias.

The panel includes Natalie Sommerville, a farmer, grazier and proud Torres Strait Islander woman from the clan Wagadagam of the Goemulgal people of Mabuyag Island. Currently living and working on Ngadjuri Country in South Australia’s Mid North, when Nat is not farming she is mentoring Aboriginal students.

Joining her is Sally Downie, who was selected as an ABC Heywire Trailblazer in 2019 for her work advocating for improved mental health services and support in drought-affected communities in Central West NSW. She is also a farmer, student and part-time drought policy officer.

Fiona Hill-Stein will add insights from her career advising on agricultural policy, drought and rural assistance, and natural resource management at the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Rounding out the panel is Tess Grieves, Regional Landcare Coordinator at North Central Catchment Management Authority in Victoria. A driven environmental achiever in her community, she is nominated for the Steadfast Young Landcare Leadership Award at the 2022 National Landcare Awards.

“We are thrilled to present an engaging, thought-provoking discussion with Kerstie, Natalie, Sally, Fiona and Tess about their experiences and accomplishments in landcare,” said Dr Shane Norrish, CEO Landcare Australia.

“Launched over 35 years ago by two women – Joan Kirner and Heather Mitchell – landcare has led the way with women in leadership roles across Australia. This event celebrates the thousands of women in landcare and their contribution to local communities and natural resource management,” said Dr Norrish.

International Women’s Day 2022 aims to inspire everyone to celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.

Don’t miss Landcare Women Break the Bias, Tuesday 8 March, 2pm – 3.30pm AEDT.

Register to attend at landcareaustralia.org.au/webinars/iwd2022.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Farmers get their say on land use

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Farmers get their say on land use

The fight between farmers and developers could be a thing of the past thanks to a new mapping project that will shape future regional planning decisions.

With agriculture, urban development, renewable energy infrastructure and other land use interests competing for space in our increasingly busy regional areas, NSW Farmers is urging landholders to have their say on State Significant Agricultural Land mapping.

NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said it was an important process that would help protect farmers from conflicting land uses into the future.

“Farmers are being given a direct opportunity to have their say on the important issue of land use planning, and this could set the course for years to come as land use interests in regional areas grow,” Mr Martin said.

“Unfortunately, agricultural land can be viewed as a default zone when it comes to matters such as urban expansion, energy infrastructure and mining.

“There’s a finite amount of land suitable for agriculture and at the moment, we are losing it in a very fragmented way, but the state government’s mapping exercise is an opportunity to resolve that poor outcome.”

Mr Martin said the NSW Government’s understanding of the regional and state significance of agricultural areas would go a long way to minimising future conflict.

“The understanding of high value agricultural land must be multi-faceted, taking into consideration soil quality, yield, adaptability, proximity to export hubs and regional importance,” Mr Martin said.

“If the government is to identify and protect agricultural land on a tiered basis, then they need to understand what makes land strategically important – and farmers will be the repository of that knowledge.

“The goal of NSW Farmers advocacy in the land use space is to ensure agriculture is being considered in land use decisions. We need to start somewhere, and this mapping is the starting point.”

While the first iteration of the government’s mapping is not perfect, Mr Martin said consultation and refinement would help produce a planning tool that benefits landholders.

Consultation on the first State Significant Agricultural Land mapping is open until late January 2022 and the NSW Department of Primary Industries is welcoming input from farmers.

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Northern Rivers & Rural News

Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

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Northern NSW farmers to have their say on climate, regional opportunities

Friday, 10 December 2021. From Taree to Lismore, Northern NSW farmers can have their say on what Australia’s climate policy should look like at one of Farmers for Climate Action’s end-of-year catch-ups next week.

The seven networking events, created by farmers for farmers passionate about a better climate future, are an opportunity to be updated on Australia’s climate policy, share local insights and learnings from the year, and ensure we’re feeding the right climate solutions back to industry and decision-makers.

The 1.5-hour sessions will run from Monday 13 December to Wednesday 15 December in the following locations:

Taree: Monday 13 December from 6.30pm at the Caravilla Motor Inn Bistro
Port Macquarie: Tuesday 14 December from 9am at Hibbard Sports Club
Dorrigo: Tuesday 14 December from 1.30pm at the Food Angel Cafe
Bellingen: Tuesday 14 December from 630pm at Bellingen Riverside Cottages
Grafton: Wednesday 15 Dec from 9.30am at Vines at 139
Kyogle: Wednesday 15 December from 2pm at Sugarbowl Cafe
Lismore: Wednesday 15 December from 6.30pm at the Lismore Workers Club mezzanine

Peter Holding, third-generation Harden farmer and FCA community outreach officer said:

“Here’s your opportunity to meet like-minded farmers and compare notes on the year we’ve had. We can have a frank discussion about where Australia’s climate policy is at and, more importantly, what this means for our region and livelihoods.

“Farmers are on the front lines of climate change, with many of us in this region living through droughts, floods, bushfires and more.

“Strong climate policy creates a raft of opportunities for regional Australia and we want Northern NSW farmers to be central to the conversation to ensure we get the best opportunities for the region.”

The events will be free of charge. RSVPs are essential and refreshments will be provided. To register visit www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/events.

Farmers for Climate Action is a movement of almost 7000 farmers and agricultural leaders working to ensure that farmers, who are on the frontlines of climate change, are part of its solution.

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