Thursday, 12 November 2020
Statements by Members
Eden-Monaro Electorate: Monaro Farming Systems
Monaro Farming Systems covers Cooma, Bombala, Nimmitabel and surrounds. The group is a progressive community of innovative, forward-thinking graziers and growers. MFS accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of the Monaro's agricultural output, wool, sheepmeat and beef. As a collective, they are developing new income streams and building on their environmental stewardship.
When I was meeting with them recently, one farmer made the comment that the group has been cut off at the knees. For the last 10 years, federal Landcare funding has paid for an executive officer, enabling MFS to be a real powerhouse. MFS members have achieved a profitability increase of $10 per hectare per year through sustainable agricultural change, which equates to a direct value to the local region of more than $1 million. Being able to employ a paid executive officer to oversee admin, marketing, member support, and grant applications and acquittals has been central in achieving that result. The government's Smart Farms grant scheme has turned that work upside down, though, with a focus on short-term projects rather than long-term gains. MFS has been able to keep the payroll going in the short term, but the long-term security that has been so critical to the group's success is now missing. When is the government going to provide the long-term foundation our farmers need rather than going for short-term headline-grabbing projects?