Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Balonne fencing program delivers for landholders

An ambitious wild dog exclusion fencing program in southwest Queensland’s Balonne Shire is delivering a $100 million in extra agricultural income and around 230 new jobs, Balonne Shire Council said today.

Since 2019, the Council has secured $13 million in Federal government grants and State government loan funding to deliver the Balonne Shire Exclusion Fencing program, which it says has been a major catalyst for additional private farm funding to create a total of $44 million investment in exclusion fencing in the Shire.

A total of 1,692km of fencing has been constructed as part of the Balonne Shire Exclusion Fencing Program, which encompasses an area of 695,554 ha on 87 properties and more than 66% of the Shire is now fenced with exclusion fencing.

Recently, Council commissioned an economic report by Hall Chadwick into the effects of the exclusion fencing program, which identified significant reduction in stock losses and a significant improvement in employment, stock reproductive rates and overall well-being of landholders.

This project has also created a greater ability for on-farm diversification, which has generated an additional $42 million in investment in plant and equipment, yards and sheds, internal fences and water improvements on local farms.

Balonne Shire Mayor, Samantha O’Toole says she was heartened by the positive results detailed in the report.

“Our exclusion fencing program is delivering outstanding benefits for our Shire and it’s great to see them all laid out in this report,” said Mayor O’Toole.

“This has been a collaborative effort with landholders contributing a 50:50 contribution, where Council coordinated a special rate for landholder loans from Queensland Treasury

“We are now seeing the obvious benefits of reduced stock losses and improved stock reproductive rates.

“We are also seeing other benefits from farmers regaining control of their properties and being prepared to invest and diversify.

“For our small Shire to see an increase of around 230 jobs from one, mostly grant funded program is a great outcome for locals and landholders alike.

“This new fencing is also giving our landholders the opportunity to explore different types of farming to improve productivity in a variety of conditions, including an unexpected growth in cropping.

“We know that farmers are a resilient bunch, but to see the results of this report identifying a reduction of landholder’s stress levels and an improvement in positivity about their future was great to see.”

The Balonne Shire Exclusion Fencing Program was made possible through funding Balonne Shire Council (BSC) sourced from the Australian Government’s Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts during Drought (CCWI) grant program, the Murray Darling Basin Economic Development Program (MDBEDP) and two rounds of Special Rate Scheme with low-interest loans from the Queensland Treasury Corporation, organised by Council.

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