NATURAL Resources Minister Anthony Lynham has been accused of telling only half the truth when comes to how drought stricken farmers can feed mulga to livestock.
The pushback comes from farm group AgForce after Dr Lynham issued a media release saying he wanted to dispel myths about mulga harvesting, and assure Queensland farmers they could still push mulga to feed livestock.
“It’s important that our struggling farmers know that they can still push mulga to feed their stock,” Dr Lynham said.
“It’s disappointing that this myth continues to circulate - and I’ve even called the Federal Minister (David Littleproud) this morning to clear this up with him.
There’s no doubt the Palaszczuk Government’s vegetation management laws have made it harder for farmers to do their jobs, and that’s the last thing they need in a drought.
“Under the LNP, graziers could harvest up to 50 per cent of the regulated mulga on their property in a 10-year period. This has not changed,” Dr Lynham said.
However, AgForce president Grant Maudsley said Dr Lynham’s claims were misleading and didn’t reflect the reality confronting farmers on the ground.
"There's no doubt the Palaszczuk Government's vegetation management laws have made it harder for farmers to do their jobs, and that's the last thing they need in a drought," Mr Maudsley said.
"The tightening of the fodder harvesting code and the removal of the thinning code have meant more red tape for farmers to navigate and made it more difficult to grow grass to feed livestock.
"The area that farmers can harvest each time for fodder has been limited and may only last a few days or a week or two, while the width of the mulga strips farmers can push has reduced significantly.
"This means farmers have to notify much more frequently and keep a lot more photographic evidence of what they are doing and when.
“The Queensland Government's mapping continues to be wildly inaccurate, complex and constantly changing, meaning farmers can't plan with any certainty or confidence.”
Mr Maudsley said the process was much more time consuming and complicated at a time when drought-stricken farmers were working around the clock just to keep their stock alive.
“The new regulatory hoops farmers have to jump through are just not practical and workable on the ground,” he said.
“While the minister issues misleading media releases from his office in downtown Brisbane, the reality facing farmers trying to manage their land and look after their livestock in western Queensland is vastly different.”
Dr Lynham said the Palaszczuk government was backing farmers and drought-affected communities.
“It’s time for all levels of government to focus on the main game,” he said.
Opposition LNP agriculture spokesman Dale Last, who met with farmers in Charleville today, said the bureaucratic red tape associated with the harvesting of mulga for fodder showed the laws were unworkable.
“These people have their backs to wall from dawn to dusk trying to keep their sheep and cattle alive,” Mr Last said.
“Graziers repeatedly told me the paperwork and reporting that have come with the Palaszczuk government’s are incredibly burdensome.
“They also told me that the laws do not work because not one size fits all. Every property has its own individual requirements that are not accommodated by the laws.”
Mr Last said graziers needed to be trusted.
“We’re talking about families, so of whom that have been here for four and five generations, to know exactly how to sustainably manage their mulga resource,” Mr Last said.
“They are in the best position to manage mulga. The reality is if they can’t harvest mulga, they have no option to destock or watch their sheep and cattle die.”
“We have to put our trust in farmers and let them harvest mulga as they have been doing for decades.”
Mr Last said the new tree thinning regulations were also unworkable.
“I’ve seen first hand that it is impossible to conduct tree thinning,” he said.
“Landholders are being to lock up huge tracks of land because they cannot practically move machinery in this landscape because of the density of the trees that must remain undisturbed.”
Mr Last said under the new laws all trees with a diameter of more than 200mm must be left undisturbed. In addition, an undisturbed buffer of 5m must be left around each tree.
Member for Warrego, Ann Leahy, likened the use of mulga for livestock feed to a surburban lawn.
“It regenerates and needs to be managed and harvested by landholders so it is a useful fodder,” Ms Leahy said.
“The Palaszczuk government should stop this over regulation, that is getting in the way of landholders who are trying to feed their stock during the drought.”
Mulga is found over a large area of South West Queensland, roughly bounded in the east and north by Roma and Longreach and in isolated areas nearer Mt Isa. It is an invaluable feed for livestock in times of drought.