News briefs 7 September 2011

Beef Central, 07/09/2011

NSW Farmers welcomes first O’Farrell Government budget

NSW Farmers says the O’Farrell Government has demonstrated its commitment to agriculture by maintaining funding levels to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in its first State Budget. NSW Farmers President Fiona Simson says farmers will be breathing a sigh of relief to see DPI funding maintained, with a Budget allocation of $1.1 billion. “Biosecurity has received $120 million, $380 million has been set aside for Catchment Management Authorities and Crown Lands, and a further $190 million will go toward protecting agricultural lands,” she said. “However, the Budget has missed an opportunity to further invest in research and development. We are keen to continue working with the Government to see more money invested for the benefit of the State’s food security." NSW Farmers also expressed relief that a request for an upgrade to decade-old mapping data has been met in the Budget.


Northern Australia using cattle as border sentries

A pilot animal monitoring program in Queensland has proven so successful it will become an ongoing program according to the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service.
In 2010, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS), in partnership with the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council (NPARC), established a pilot sentinel cattle herd program at Seisia in Queensland, the most northerly point of the Australian mainland. The sentinel herd monitors for the presence of exotic animal diseases, such as strains of bluetongue virus, surra (Trypanosoma evansi) and screw-worm fly, which might reach the mainland from neighbouring countries such as Papua New Guinea. The Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula region is considered a high-risk pathway for exotic animal and plant pests and diseases. Monitoring programs by NAQS, such as the Seisia cattle herd, are important elements in Australia’s biosecurity risk management system. Since the pilot program was established, cattle have been routinely tested for diseases each month and so far there has been no evidence of exotic diseases. In addition, the sentinel herd is used as a local source of fresh beef for the Cape York Peninsula community. NAQS Animal Health Manager, Dr Beth Cookson, said the program was very significant for both NAQS and the NPARC. “In addition to providing NAQS with an ongoing sentinel monitoring program it also provides major benefits for the local community – it’s a great example of NAQS working closely with strategic stakeholders to achieve a win-win situation,” she said.

Queensland primary production protected through new Bill

Queensland’s minister for agriculture Tim Mulherin says a new bill which was introduced to State parliament yesterday will cut red tape and strengthen biosecurity protections for the state’s primary production sector. The Protecting Primary Production Amendment Bill 2011 involves amendments to six individual Acts. They include amendments to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 to enhance biosecurity emergency responses and have benefits for vets and animal owners. The Agricultural Standards Act 1994 will be tightened to better align with the National Ruminant Feed Ban which prohibits the feeding to stock of restricted animal material to prevent the spread of diseases such as 'mad cow'. Changes to the Land Protection Act 1989 will oblige citizens to notify an inspector of a notifiable pest once they are aware of it. A single amendment to the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 will replace separate strategies with a single State Pest Management Strategy for plants and animals. Changes to the Rural and Regional Adjustment Act 1994 will facilitate administration of interstate schemes by QRAA, streamline QRAAs appointment and delegation powers and clarify future requirements of the Act.


'Spend CSG money on science not ads': AgForce

Queensland farm group AgForce says a new media blitz by Coal Seam Gas companies is proof the gas sector is very worried about a big swing in public opinion against their industry. AgForce CEO Robert Walker said his organisation and its members aren't anti-CSG, but AgForce is opposed to the ‘expansion-at-all-costs’ approach taken by gas companies with the encouragement of the Queensland government. "This campaign is an attempt to deflect attention from the real issue – that there is no scientific evidence to suggest CSG exploration and extraction won't harm water reserves, boost salinity levels or threaten the longer term viability of some of our best food-producing land," Mr Walker said.
"No one is denying CSG companies will make money, some of which may end up in local communities but a lot will end up in state government hands as royalties. Our question remains at what expense to the environment and longer term agricultural production? What shape will our cropping and grazing country be in after the CSG companies are gone in 30-40 years?”


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