Pasture Recovery Initiative Launched

"Pay graziers a decent living, not welfare" said Tom Garrett, Chairman of South West NRM today.

Mr Garrett was launching a new scheme called "Pasture Recovery" by which a fee would be paid to landholders to spell part or all of their property after the season breaks.

South West NRM is a community-based public company accredited to deliver funds from the Commonwealth's Natural Heritage Trust and National Landcare Program. It has reserved $200,000 through its Futurescapes program of funding for on-ground works to pay landholders in an innovative way.

Landholders will be invited to submit bids for the amount of fees they wish to be paid to remove stock from parts of or all of their properties, to allow the grasses to set seed and replenish the pasture.

Successful landholders would grant to South West NRM a lease for between one and five years in return for a regular monthly payment that is guaranteed, regardless of rain, stock prices or continuing drought.

"We are deeply sympathetic to the pressures the situation of graziers who are faced with making difficult decisions every day: whether to sell or keep stock, whether to invest or not invest in waters and other works, whether to stay on the property in hope of a good run of seasons or to call it quits", said Mr Garrett.

“Our new scheme respects the role of graziers as custodians of the land resource that provides Australia with its food and fibre. It is intended to compensate them for their stewardship in a way that offers dignity and reflects the importance of their role as custodians.” 

Mr Garrett said that while he welcomed the commitment to rural Australia that the Commonwealth government had made by contributing an additional $714 million in drought aid last week, this was still a welfare payment, and by itself does not relieve the pressure being placed on the soils and vegetation of Queensland's rangelands.

"The soils and vegetation systems of the Mulga lands are by their nature of low productivity, even in good seasons. They must be allowed time to recover their fertility and to restore carbon to the soil. Drought aid by itself will not prevent landholders from pushing stock back on their properties as soon as green pick is available. This is the time when native pastures are most vulnerable and the future productivity of the land can be most severely damaged.” 

Mr Garrett said that the scheme has arisen from a motion passed at the company's Annual General Meeting last Friday and had been supported by community members of the company.
"The modest amount of funds that we can provide is nowhere near enough to address the problem region-wide. I call upon both sides of national politics to match our modest initiative with some serious money. After a decade of drought, graziers in our part of the world are now in a worse situation than they have ever been, and the properties are likewise.”


Tom Garrett

Chair, South West NRM Ltd