JAMBIN GRAZIER: Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland.
JAMBIN GRAZIER: Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland. Contributed

Farmer tells of devastating truth if laws are passed

A FARMER watches his cattle get weaker by the day.

No longer able to stand, he faces no other option but to shoot them down as they decline in health.

This isn't an uncommon sight for farmers living in a drought ravaged Queensland.

Thankfully, many families living on the land have unlimited access to a food source growing on their property, mulga.

Providing protein and essentially saving cattle, the plant is a god send that nothing could revoke, not even the drought.

But with new vegetation management laws proposed by the Palaszczuk government, this reliable food source faces a very real threat of being made unavailable.

 

Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland. March 2018. Picture: FIONA SHEEAN
Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland. March 2018. Picture: FIONA SHEEAN Contributed

The proposed laws will mean that 1.7 million hectares of developed farming land will be locked up with no compensation and Queensland farmers will be restricted to how they use their own land.

Impassioned farmers gathered at at Queensland Parliament House yesterday morning and raised their voices in hopes of being heard one last time.

The 800-strong crowd of farmers from across the state rallied on George St to protest the proposed new vegetation management laws.

Listed as the first item for debate in Parliament, many people stood strong with farmers via social media.

Online posts of men, women and children clad in green, holding signs and protesting the laws filled social media.

 

Third generation grazier, Geoff Maynard, attended the protest with his wife along with others who made their way down to Brisbane from places as far away as Longreach and Charleville.

The Jambin cattle farmer wanted to ensure his kids had the opportunity to carry on the family business in the future.

Geoff, who runs senepol and belmont red cattle on his Mount Eugene property, said the laws would greatly affect his family, friends and clients.

"We certainly have a lot of clients that live in the mulga country and for the last 100 years, whenever it gets dry, they are able to pull the mulga and feed the cattle and the mulga regenerates," Geoff said.

"They have been doing it consistently every dry period, which is every three or four years, and it has become an important source to combat animal welfare because it is such a good food source.

"In the dry time it's an important resource to combat animal welfare and starvation and these laws we believe are stopping this."

Geoff said there were a lot of people in the industry who were disappointed with the consultation process leading up to the laws.

 

Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland. March 2018. Picture: FIONA SHEEAN
Geoff Maynard runs Belmont Red cattle at Mt Eugene at Jambin in central Queensland. March 2018. Picture: FIONA SHEEAN Contributed

"The AgForce guys were saying that over the last 15 months they've put a lot of science into researching the effect of land clearing on the Great Barrier Reef and they believe these laws ignore what the science is saying," he said.

Two years ago, similar laws were nearly introduced but were not passed in Parliament.

"There seems to be a changing of these laws every political cycle, farmers need a bit of certainty instead of changing it," Geoff said.

"We locked in PMAV with the Beattie Government 10 to 12 years ago, paid our money and we thought that was the certainty going forward."

Geoff says with the threat of the laws being implemented he was worried Queensland farmers would end up with animal welfare issues on their hands.

"The mulga country is now being taken away from farmers. We are fearful this may cause catastrophic animal welfare consequences later in the year," Geoff said.

The proposed laws

  • Ban broadscale clearing of remnant vegetation for agriculture
  • Expand the "high value regrowth" that is protected from vegetation that hasn't been cleared since the beginning of 1990 - 28 year-old trees - to 15-year-old trees. This means an extra 232,000 ha of trees will be protected.
  • Increase, up to almost treble, the maximum penalties courts could impose for illegal clearing to more than half-a-million-dollars
  • Give compliance officers more powers and enforcement tools
  • Require farmers to get approval to thin vegetation
  • Still allow farmers to harvest fodder trees to feed livestock.