Drought-hit communities in the New England will receive more than $2 million in Australian Government support to control pest animals and weeds.
Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said three local government areas in the electorate will share in $10 million under Round 2 of the Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program.
Grant recipients include Walcha Council, Glen Innes Severn Council and Armidale Regional Council which will deliver a range of projects including increased wild dog management measures, roadside control of prevalent weed species and eradication of Tropical Soda Apple on farmland.
“Anything we can do now to help locals control scourges such as wild dogs and feral pigs along with some of our most detrimental weeds like prickly acacia, Coolatai Grass and Bahia Grass, is an investment in the future,” Mr Joyce said.
“This builds on the weed control measures we’re already delivering under this program at Tenterfield to tackle serrated tussock and blackberry.
“The capacity of our farmers to manage pests and weeds during drought is reduced because they are dealing with other challenges such as feeding livestock and keeping their farm businesses running.
“Weeds compete with fodder and native plants while feral animals undermine drought management activities and recovery efforts, threatening both livestock and native animals.”
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the program aims to reduce the detrimental economic, social and environmental effects associated with pest animals and weeds during drought.
“We are delivering on another election commitment to help farmers and landholders manage pests and weeds at a time when they are least able to do so,” Minister Littleproud said.
Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program funding is used by local councils to support farmers and land managers reduce the impacts of pest animals and weeds on agriculture and the environment, and to stimulate local economies and employment.
23 projects will be funded under Round 2 of the Program.
$986,800 Moona-Winterbourne linear barrier fence (Walcha Council): This ‘shovel-ready’ landscape scale project will erect 44km of predator proof fencing to link existing, separate sections of dog-proof fence into an effective 107km barrier. This will directly protect 110,000 hectares of livestock production in a key agricultural area and aid on-farm biodiversity in the Walcha region of the Northern Tablelands, NSW. This fence is not a cluster fence, it is linear and intended to separate the highly fertile and productive Walcha Shire from the Eastern Escarpment. Local Wild Dog Management Plans, signed by producers, Local Land Services and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service have identified the need for this comprehensive barrier fence for more than a decade. This will prevent the migration of wild dogs, pigs and foxes which prey upon livestock and reduce impacts on pasture by deer. Separating livestock from invasive pests will reduce zoonotic diseases such as hydatidosis, neosporosis and aid control of African Swine Fever.
$683,681 Combating local priority weeds in a collaborative cooperative coordinated approach (Glen Innes Severn Council): This project aims to assist local landholders and primary producers on two fronts. Firstly, the project, will support landholders in identifying new and emerging weeds introduced via livestock fodder imported from other regions and interstate during the drought and, where required, employ local contractors to control the infestations at no cost to the landholder. Secondly, the project aims to reduce the environmental and economic impact of weedy grass species through roadside control programs including Coolatai Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta), Whiskey Grass (Andropogon virginicus), Giant Parramatta Grass (Sporobolus fertilis) and Bahia Grass (Paspalum notatum) which have the potential to invade roadsides and neighbouring pastures, reducing biodiversity and productivity.
$410,654 Combating the state priority weed tropical soda apple in the Macleay Valley during prolonged drought conditions (Armidale Regional Council): This application has been submitted to assist 79 private landholder landholders in the severely drought stricken and fire affected Macleay Valley in meeting their Biosecurity Duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015 to eradicate Tropical Soda Apple from their land and keep their land free from the plant. A coordinated, collaborative regional approach using best practice weed management techniques, together with a proven team of Rapid Response Biosecurity Officers will provide the greatest possible outcomes for this project. The control of the NSW State Declared Priority Weed Tropical Soda Apple in the Macleay Valley will have far reaching positive economic and social impacts in Armidale Regional Council, both on farm and throughout the local community by vastly improving productivity and profitability on farm, and add on affects for businesses and suppliers through stimulated community spending.