Grazing in reserves, parks to avoid animal welfare crisis

Beef Central, 14/05/2013

The Queensland Government has moved to assist drought stricken graziers in the State by temporarily opening up selected properties and National Park land with previous grazing history for emergency agistment.

Acting premier Jeff Seeney said the worsening drought crisis meant immediate action was needed.

“As the dire animal welfare situation facing our graziers worsens, the Newman Government is providing a lifeline by allowing access for cattle to suitable state land,” Mr Seeney said.

“This is a part of a range of drought relieving measures the Newman Government will put together over the coming weeks and months, as we do everything possible to help those affected.”

National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said the proposed changes would see emergency hardship grazing authorities issued over specific areas which had been selected on the basis of their previous grazing history and their proximity to suffering properties.

“We won’t stand by and watch while graziers are forced to destroy their own stock when we have land and feed available,” Mr Dickson said.

“Queensland’s graziers are the backbone of the nation’s cattle industry and we are determined to protect their livelihoods as we work through this crisis together.

“These arrangements are limited to only a select number of properties and National Park land, will only be available for graziers suffering from drought or wildfire and will only stay in place for a limited time to assist with the current crisis.

“Importantly, the existence of buffel grass on this land, a foreign species, means carefully managed grazing will reduce fuel loads and also lessen impacts on fire sensitive species.”

The proposed amendment to the Nature Conservation Act 1992 will see eight properties purchased in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government under the National Reserve System (NRS) reopened in the short-term, and the Government will today write to the Commonwealth seeking its support for the action.

Additionally, five areas currently declared as National Park, but with previous grazing history– Moorrinya, Forest Den, Blackbraes, Nairana and Mazeppa – will offer temporary emergency agistment for graziers until the end of 2013.

“Allowing graziers access to state owned land will go some way to alleviating their current catastrophic situation,” Mr Dickson said.

Move could save 25,000 cattle: AgForce

The move may save the lives of more than 25,000 cattle affected by severe drought in the western reaches of the state, AgForce Queensland believes.

AgForce Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Charles Burke, said the proposed emergency agistment measures would provide short term access to up to 440,000 hectares of well-grassed land carrying valuable stock feed.

He said the move was critical to ensuring best possible animal welfare outcomes for affected stock under current severe weather conditions.

“More than a third of Queensland is now drought declared with serious pressure being placed on the viability of our graziers and their ability to deal with stock struggling under drought conditions,” Mr Burke said.

“The extent of this drought means there are few options available to primary producers in terms of selling stock domestically, while the ongoing reduction in the Indonesian live export permits as a result of the 2011 trade suspension continues to eliminate that market as much of an outlet for Queensland cattle.

“It simply makes sense to provide access to land that has grass available, and is in close proximity to some of the hardest hit areas of Queensland in order to relieve the increasing burden of this drought at a time when beef producers are facing a multitude of challenges including a high Australian dollar, poor prices and high debt levels.

“However we cannot stress enough, it is the welfare of our grazing stock that is front and centre and today’s announcement is a common sense measure which can be implemented in the short term and is the best possible way to avoid an animal welfare crisis.

“This will ensure more than 25,000 cattle will have access to urgently required feed, and in the longer term will help make sure our graziers can emerge from  this difficult period to continue to be the best beef producers in the world and one of the most important industries in this state.”

Sources: Qld Govt, AgForce Qld

RELATED STORY: Environmentalists slam park grazing access, lawyer slams environmentalists


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