$15 million to support drought-stricken QLD farmers deal with pests
The Australian and Queensland governments are inviting applications for pest control programs in drought affected areas as part of a joint $15 million commitment to tackle pest weeds and animals.
The Australian Government has confirmed ten million dollars will be provided to the Queensland Government to help drought-affected farmers fight the effects of pest animals and weeds as part of measures under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, which will be in addition to and will complement the Queensland Government's $5 million Queensland Feral Pest Initiative.
Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Queensland Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill Byrne, said the $10 million of federal funding had been agreed in-principle after the Queensland Government submitted a project proposal that meets Australian Government requirements.
"I'm pleased to see Queensland's plans on how they can use these funds to take actions like building fences and other controls, to protect our valuable livestock and lands," Minister Joyce said.
"Queensland is a state still deeply affected by drought and we want these funds to assist producers as soon as possible.
"The Queensland Government now has the confirmation needed to put these funds to work. Officials are working together to finalise delivery arrangements as soon as possible.
"Under the project proposal submitted to the Australian Government, Queensland has agreed to receive and administer Commonwealth funds for pest management initiatives such as cluster exclusion fencing, baiting programmes and other on-the-ground measures.
"Cluster fencing projects, which exclude wild dogs and restrict movement to areas where they can be better managed, remains a high priority for graziers throughout drought affected parts of Queensland, and it's a priority which I support."
"If we can bring back the sheep, we bring back the shearers and we bring back work and much needed dollars to outback communities."
Queensland Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Bill Byrne, encouraged eligible organisations to consider applying for project funding under both the federal and Queensland funding schemes as part of the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative.
"This initiative administers both the federal funding scheme and the $5 million in state funding, comprised of $4 million over the next three years for wild dog projects in drought-affected areas and $1 million for feral cat research for future management," Minister Byrne said.
"I encourage local governments, regional natural resource management groups, Landcare, industry and wild dog committees to work together to develop and submit regionally agreed projects.
"By coordinating the funding being offered we can deliver more benefits, including building landholder skills and implementing large-scale pest projects
"With more than 80 per cent of Queensland in drought, the funding is for high priority drought areas where there are high densities of wild dogs causing significant impact on livestock.
"Producers and landowners are already doing it tough with managing this long-running drought, so it's imperative we help lessen the burden by helping them fight these pests."
Minister Joyce said pest animals and weeds can have a significant effect on farmers in drought-affected areas.
"Pest animals like wild dogs and rabbits, along with a range of weeds, can seriously affect the productivity and profitability of farm operations," Minister Joyce said.
"Through the Ag White Paper consultation process we heard first-hand the devastating effects of pest animals—for instance wild dogs are estimated to cost our agriculture sector up to $66 million per year through direct costs like livestock losses, disease transmission and controls—and that's aside from the distress and anger that wild dog attacks can cause.
"And it's estimated that weed management costs Australian farmers more than $3 billion every single year, and Queensland farmers about $600 million a year.
"Because of the severity of Queensland's drought situation, $10 million of the $15 million to be allocated to the states in 2015–16 is being made available to the Queensland Government—another sign of our commitment to supporting producers in need.
"Through the Ag White Paper we're investing $2.97 billion to support farmers and rural communities to strengthen drought preparedness and risk management, and another $100 million for pest and weed management and eradication nationally."
For the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative funding guidelines, and how to submit expressions of interest, contact the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23 or visit www.daf.qld.gov.au.
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