Grazing Land Management

SA livestock farmers seek freeze on land and water levies

Sheep Central, January 20, 2016

windmill weather 1SOUTH Australian farmers are seeking a freeze on land and water levies until an independent review of water planning and management costs is held in the state.

Primary Producers SA – representing sheep, cattle, pork, wine, horticultural and grain farmers — has called for an independent review of water planning and management costs, consistent with the National Water Initiative agreement pricing principles.

But Livestock SA said farmers in the South East, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, and the SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board areas are facing proposed land levy increases of 6-125 percent, aside from water levy rises.

Livestock SA is calling on the NRM boards to freeze land and water levies at their current rates, rather than impose the proposed increases to recover government spending from landholders.

Livestock SA president Geoff Power said the body supported PPSA’s review call and agreed there needed to be a far better understanding of NRM costs, “whether they are good value for money and the ‘recovery from landholders’ is justified and fair.”

Last week, Livestock SA responded on behalf of its members to calls for comment from three NRM boards on new business plans outlining the proposed levy increases in the South East, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, and the SA Murray-Darling Basin areas. It also has a call out to pastoral zone members for their feedback before comment is provided on the SA Arid Lands NRM Board business plan.

Mr Power said the call for the freeze came because producers are questioning what benefits they currently receive from the levies, regardless of what further value any increases may bring.

“Many livestock producers are uncertain about the value of the NRM levy at its current rate; we are not sure what we are getting for our investment — even weeds and pest animals are not being controlled.

“There needs to be a cost-benefit analysis on current NRM programs and projects and as a result, some will need to be either cancelled or quickly finished,” he said.

“NRM boards need to get back to their core business of helping to achieve a sustainable and productive agriculture sector.
Livestock SA board member in the Murray-Darling Basin and Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges NRM area Joe Keynes said producers want to see if the levy increase are justified and want a freeze until a review is held.

Livestock SA South East board member Jack England said many South East livestock producers are not in a position to be able to pay the increases, particularly given the current dry conditions.

“It is ironic that at the same time as producers are being asked to pay higher NRM levies that the State Government has developed a drought assistance package for the upper South East to support farmers and farm businesses in the region who are currently suffering the effects of two consecutive years of well-below average rainfall.

“It is completely unacceptable for the State Government to charge South East landholders $2 million for ‘water planning and management costs’ without providing any detail on the basis of costs incurred,” Mr England said.

“There is no way that the South East could cost the State Government $2 million when all the NRM Board does is monitor 900 bores.

“We strongly believe the increased levy burden – should it be proved to be needed – should be shared by a broader mix of all ratepayers,” he said.

“Some producers are facing a five-fold increase, which is massive. For each dollar we spend, we need to know what we are getting in return.”

Read Livestock SA’s submissions online here

Source: Livestock SA

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