Twiggy loses cattle station mine fight
Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Twiggy Forrest has lost a fight to prevent mining on his cattle station in the Pilbara. The Australian reported this week that Perth-based Onslow Resources, Yarri Mining and Quarry Park, have been granted conditional approval to mine for mineral sands in the Ashburton River bed and surrounds, despite Mr Forrest saying it would cause environmental damage to his Minderoo pastoral station near Onslow. According to The Australian, Mr Forrest argued that mining operations would affect parts of the Ashburton River, deprive him of using land and harm the pastoral business which runs more than 3000 head of cattle, and would also "sterilise and degrade the land" and "cause environmental damage," his submission to the WA Warden's Court reportedly said. Magistrate Stephen Wilson dismissed Mr Forrest's objections and recommended that the WA mines minister grant mining leases to the three parties subject to conditions such as filling in drill holes and rehabilitating land.
DAFF simulation to test FMD preparedness
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will use a planned program of simulation exercises this year to strengthen Australia’s preparedness to implement a national livestock standstill as part of the response to significant emergency animal disease events. Australia’s chief veterinary officer Dr Mark Schipp, has informed the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that “Exercise Odysseus” will comprise a series of more than 40 discussion exercises and field-based activities that will take place throughout 2014. The Exercise will focus on the first week of a hypothetical foot and mouth disease outbreak, when decisions about and the implementation of a national livestock standstill are most likely and decisions will be made about extending a standstill beyond the initial 72 hours. The exercise program will explore actions taken by government agencies and industry organisations when implementing a national livestock standstill. The exercise scenario will be based on a hypothetical outbreak of foot and mouth disease, initially detected in Queensland, Australia. The first national level exercise was conducted on Wednesday, February 12, in Canberra, which aimed at identifying communication messages, channels and responsibilities around implementing a national livestock standstill.
CWA of NSW makes $50,000 drought donation
The Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW has donated $50,000 to help families in NSW affected by the current drought. CWA of NSW president, Tanya Cameron said current conditions were devastating and escalating dramatically, and it was hoped the financial contribution would assist to take some immediate pressure of some families. The donation has been given to the Rural Financial Counselling Service which will identify families in rural NSW who need support and provide them will a financial ‘gift’ from the CWA of NSW to be used to assist with essential expenses. The CWA of NSW last week and the CWA of QLD last week jointly wrote to the Prime Minister and Federal Treasurer asking them to visit drought affected areas to gain a better understanding of the situation. Tanya Cameron said the CWA of NSW was also pleased to see that the NSW government has now stepped up its relief package.
Farm Finance Concessional Loans can help: QRAA
The Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority is reminding primary producers applications for the Farm Finance Concessional Loans Scheme (Queensland) which can help primary producers restructure their existing debt remain open until March 31. Primary producers have until that date to apply for a Farm Finance Concessional Loan in 2013/14, with loans of up to $1m currently available. QRAA Chief Executive Officer, Colin Holden, said it was important to realise that the Farm Finance Concessional Loans did not increase a producer’s existing debt levels. The loans are available for terms of up to 5 years with interest only repayments at concessional interest rates. Full repayment is required at the end of the five year concessional loan term, at which time it is expected producers will be in a position to return to commercial lending arrangements through the refinance of the loan by commercial lenders. “Queensland has $30 million available in the application period, and has already seen almost $20m in loans approved to help primary producers in the beef cattle, sheep, dairy, broadacre cropping and fruit growing industries. “QRAA is working in conjunction with existing commercial lenders to assist in managing producer’s debt and allowing them to get back on their feet,” Mr Holden said. “The success of the program thus far is in part due to the willingness of commercial lenders to work with QRAA on establishing joint loan security arrangements to benefit their clients.” For more information about the Farm Finance: Concessional Loans Scheme (Queensland) and access to the guidelines and eligibility criteria, visit www.qraa.qld.gov.au or contact QRAA on Freecall 1800 623 946.
Don’t import weeds with drought-feed
The NSW Department of Primary Industires is reminding farmers to take precautions when buying in stockfeed to avoid importing new weeds onto their property. NSW DPI Manager Invasive Species Programs Scott Charlton said there were several key steps farmers could take to ensure the stockfeed they bring onto their farm does not lead to a weed infestation. Firstly, it was important to seek as much detail as possible from the source of the fodder about where it wqs grown, and the potential weeds that grow in that area, and whether the source paddock was weed free. If possible, farmers should restrict drought feeding to a sacrifice area and be alert for new weeds in this area. Flat, arable areas that could be regularly checked were best where there was easy access and the opportunity for weed control, including mechanical, chemical, biological or grazing management. Having any known plants identified early and before they had an opportunity to establish and set seed was crucial. Additionally, livestock were excellent distributors of weed seeds, often in dung days after the fodderhas been eaten. For this reason farmers are also urged to restrict the movement of livestock, including livestock returning from agistment, to a quarantined area for at least two weeks.
Qld Govt fast-tracks NQ water study
The Queensland Government says it seeking to fast-track agricultural development opportunities for Northern Queensland by bringing forward a review of the Gulf Water Resource Plan from 2018. State natural resources and mines minister Andrew Cripps said the review will be completed by the end of 2014, which will show how much more water the Government can release for irrigated agricultural developments, while protecting existing entitlement holders, local communities, the environment and commercial fisheries. Mr Cripps said the decision to bring the review forward followed recent findings by the CSIRO that more could be allocated responsibly in the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments. Last year the Newman Government released 95,000 megalitres of unallocated water from the Flinders and Gilbert river catchments via a tender process. “There was a strong appetite from local landholders to have this water for irrigated agriculture and the release of water entitlements in both catchments has the potential to create jobs in local communities and grow the economy in North and North West Queensland,” Mr Cripps said.
Man charged over SW Qld fuel theft
A 20 year old man from Wallumbilla near Roma has been charged with nine stealing offences, four willful damage offences, an unlawful entry into a motor vehicle offence and a number of traffic offences as a result of information received from the public and a joint investigation with Wandoan Police and the Roma Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad. All charges relate to the theft of diesel fuel from machinery in the Wandoan and Wallumbilla areas. After the thefts occurred the 20 year old Wallumbilla male was located on a cattle property and charged. He will appear in the Chinchilla Magistrates Court on March 12.