A sugar cane farm in the Tweed Valley. Picture: Liana Turner
A sugar cane farm in the Tweed Valley. Picture: Liana Turner

Council calls for ‘visionary approach’ to help farmers

TWEED Shire Council has voted to advocate for an economic stimulus package for large-scale rural land restoration.

Councillors supported a motion calling on State and Federal governments to provide a funding injection to restore rural lands through Regenerative Landscape Management during last month’s meeting.

Former mayor of Tweed, councillor Katie Milne, said “a visionary approach was imperative” as the country was suffering from extreme droughts, bushfires, floods and water scarcity.

“Australia is experiencing multiple disasters and unless significant change happens this will continue and only get much worse,” she said.

“We can’t expect people to keep coping.

“We have to make our rural lands and waterways much healthier and more resilient to these effects.”

Regenerative Landscape Management encompasses a range of techniques to promote sustainable land management practices by improving the capacity of soils to absorb and retain moisture thereby reducing the impacts of floods, droughts and bushfires as well as enhancing town water supplies.

“Only 12 per cent of rainfall in the Tweed reaches our waterways with more than 50 per cent lost to evaporation,” Cr Milne said.

“Through a Regenerative Landscape Management funding stream we could support projects on a much greater scale, assist landholders to become more viable and attract a younger generation of farmers back to the land.”

Cr Milne claims a stimulus program could also stimulate the local economy and create thousands of new jobs.

She explained that RLM was already taking place in the Tweed through council’s activities but funds were limited.

“This is about scaling activity up,” Cr Milne said.

A recent Southern Cross University survey of 200 farmland-rated properties in the Tweed found the availability of financial resources is a major limiting factor preventing farmers from improving the health of their farms.

“We know landholders are keen to make transformational change to their farming practices but need significant financial and technical support to do so,” Cr Milne said.

Cr Milne will write to local Federal and State members, and the Federal and NSW governments, to request significant funding be made available for Regenerative Landscape Management as an economic stimulus to be administered at local government level.