Feel free to farm

qld farmGood news this week in regards to farmers and their property rights. I have written before on the plight of farmers but finally there is a step in the right direction. Both Queensland and Victoria have brought in reforms that will cut ‘green tape’ so that farmers may clear native vegetation in order to farm their own land. Years of rehashing and adding new laws and regulations had resulted in a complicated jumble of restrictions that could result in farmers wasting time and money, just to find out whether they could clear some trees or not.  Governments, at both state and local level, would inadvertently punish those farmers who were trying to maintain and conserve their land by sustainably planting native vegetation. Those who planted native species suffered the close scrutiny of officialdom whereas those who were not replanting escaped running the green gauntlet.

In Queensland, legislation passed earlier this week that allowed for the clearing of native vegetation to make way for “high value” agricultural projects, plus a reversal on planning permissions for farmers. Landowners, as long as they abide by a state approved code, would no longer need to get a permit every time they undertook routine managements of vegetation, such as weeding, fodder harvesting and thinning.

Queensland’s Natural Resources Minister, Andrew Cripps states:

We have proposed common sense changes to the state’s draconian vegetation management legislation, that will ensure that framework supports, rather than vilifies, landholders who sustainably manage their land

In Victoria the “reforms simplify the system for farmers,” responding from public outcry that the system was too expensive, unwieldy and lengthy to continue. The reforms include clear guides and maps as to what overlays your property is subject to, and the ability to assess for yourself the level of ‘biodiversity risk.’ The greatest change is that there is greater opportunity to clear land easily. To ‘offset’ the clearing, a farmer may simply replant trees elsewhere on the property, conserving any existing remnant vegetation, or buy environmental credits online. Environmental credits have been trialled in Bendigo and the government is attempting to introduce them across more councils.

The above reforms are a good step in the right direction to give farmers the freedom to farm and conserve the land as they see it. It is in farmers’ interests to have healthy, productive properties, and the government should trust them to do the right thing and just get on with their farming. The less regulation, the better for farmers and agricultural productivity.

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