Those in the state government - and the ideologues driving their environmental agenda - who think that primary producers need to be firmly regulated and penalised to prevent them destroying the natural environment would have done well to visit Banana in Central Queensland this week.
Fourth generation beef producer Jim Becker held a field day on his 3035-hecatre (7500-acre) property Glenarchy to help locals preserve plant species protected under the Conservation Management Act (CMA).
For those few of you who may not be familiar with the CMA, it is a heavy-handed piece of legislation based on the completely flawed trigger maps and backed by whopping penalties to ham-fistedly force producers to do something they are already doing.
But ultimately all it does is make it harder and more expensive to farm, ties producers in constrictive red and green tape and lowers property values.
Almost 100 producers turned up to hear Jim and a range of industry experts including noted botanist Murray Otto discuss the CMA and how they can protect rare and threatened species while maintaining the productivity (and value) of their land.
The species at the centre of this field day is the solanum johsonianum, a rare flowering plant discovered near Jim's property on the verge of the Burnett Highway.
Even though this species wasn't even on his land, the two-kilometre protection radius enshrined under the CMA meant he could not continue to farm those areas without engaging a botanist and seeking an exemption - a laborious and expensive process.
Nonetheless, Jim is determined to save the plant and is even investigating how he can propagate and distribute the species (although to do so he would need to apply for a permit, and then would be subject to further protections on his property).
The field day was not a government initiative. In fact, there was no government involvement whatsoever. And I believe this is a good thing.
Farmers love their land, land that has often been in their families for many generations, and they are passionate and able custodians of it.
Jim's field day was enlightening in many ways, but the most important learning should be that producers want to - and DO - take a pro-active role in protecting the environment, DESPITE the state government's hindrances and roadblocks, slings and arrows.
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