FARMER groups are closely monitoring an outer suburban council in Victoria's proposal to ban the use of the herbicide glyphosate.
Nillumbik Shire, based around the Diamond Valley in the foothills of the Yarra Ranges has put out a proposal for public consultation on whether it should introduce restrictions on the sale and use of glyphosate and other 'harmful' chemicals within the municipality.
A spokesperson for Nillumbik Council said the proposal was formed due to community concern.
"The use of glyphosates has been the subject of questions put to council from time to time and council, as part of its mandated review of its local laws, has put this proposal out to the broader Nillumbik community for feedback and consultation," the spokesperson said.
They were at pains to stress the move was only a proposal and had to go through the public consultation process before council decided to pursue a local law that restricted the use of the herbicide.
"There is no formal Council position on this matter or any of the items included in the Local Laws Review discussion paper," the spokesperson said.
However, one of the councillors, Greens-endorsed Ben Ramcharan, prior to his time as a councillor, in 2019 made a statement to the previous Nillumbik council linking the product to cancer and asking why non-toxic alternatives had not been considered.
Victorian Farmers Federation grains group president Ashley Fraser was unhappy with the proposal.
"It is a complete overreach of power, the leading regulatory body in Australia has declared glyphosate safe for use and we can't have local governments going against this advice just because a vocal minority wants them to," Mr Fraser said.
"If they want to phase out their own use of glyphosate, I've got no problems with that, but restricting people's access to a safe, legal product is not within their remit."
Mr Fraser said the VFF noted increasing pressure on herbicide use and said the organisation would work hard to counter moves similar to the one proposed in Nillumbik.
"We consider it a right to farm issue and we'll be watching what happens in Nillumbik closely."
The herbicide issue was not the only move from Nillumbik that raised eyebrows.
VFF president Emma Germano said her organisation was also against a proposed move in the municipality to ban the use of barbed wire.
The concept was moved because of concerns about barbed wire injuring wildlife.
However, Ms Germano said the idea reflected a lack of understanding about livestock husbandry and safety.
"Barbed wire fencing stops cattle and sheep getting through fencing and ending up on roads, it's that simple," she said.
"Many farmers opt to put barbed wire on their perimeter fences for just that purpose, to protect public safety.
"Nillumbik's proposal is reactionary and poorly thought out."
"We don't want to see cattle wandering the streets of Eltham or Hurstbridge at night, that's a car or train crash waiting to happen," Ms Germano said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.