Defence plan process highlights need to better protect ag land

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Defence plan process highlights need to better protect ag land
Thursday, 23 Feb 2017

The flawed master planning process for the Department of Defence's proposed expansion of military training areas in Central and North Queensland highlights the importance of preserving agricultural land for agricultural use, AgForce said today.

AgForce General President Grant Maudsley welcomed the Defence Minister's confirmation today that the master plan had been completed, and that no farming families would be forced to sell their land to allow for military training area expansions.

"While the right result was achieved in the end, this whole process has caused so much unnecessary heartache and stress for farming families in Central and North Queensland and we don't want to see other communities go through what these communities have gone through," he said.

"AgForce said right from the outset that Defence needed to look at alternatives to forcing farmers from their land, and the Minister's comments today that they will use their existing training facilities better to deliver on their agreement with Singapore begs the question of why they didn't decide to do that in the first place."

Mr Maudsley said it was disappointing the master plan was not being released publicly, and he urged Defence officials to ensure landholders understand the outcomes of the master plan and what it means for them.

"These farming families went through months of uncertainty and it's vital that Defence officials meet promptly with all the affected landholders in person to answer all their questions about where to from here," he said.

Mr Maudsley said the issue highlighted the constant battle farmers faced preserving agricultural land for agricultural use, and the need for better protection of farm land in planning processes.

"Agricultural land is constantly being taken away from landholders for a variety of reasons such as national park expansions, urban sprawl and mining developments, as well as being rendered useless by ill-conceived Government regulations," he said.

"Farmers are custodians and environmental stewards of valuable farm land and that's a responsibility we take very seriously. Yet we are constantly under pressure from multiple stakeholders and multiple levels of government that make it harder for us to get on with the job of feeding the world.

"Agriculture and farming are woven into the fabric of Australian culture, the economy and regional communities – and this should not and must not be compromised."

Media Contacts: Scott Whitby 0418 733 102, Sarah Henderson 0427 626 853

Defence plan process highlights need to better protect ag land

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