Agriculture is a vital part of the social, economic and cultural fabric of communities right throughout the country, and when agriculture thrives, regional communities thrive.
For agriculture to continue to grow and prosper, farmers need land and they need to able to manage that land productively. The world is not creating any more prime agricultural land, all there is, is here now.
Yet agricultural country is constantly being taken off landholders for a variety of reasons – for national park expansions, for mining developments, through vegetation management restrictions and for urban sprawl, to name just a few examples.
Now more farm land could be lost so an overseas army can come and blow up bombs there. Dozens of farming families in Central and North Queensland could be kicked off their properties so Singaporean soldiers can train more often in Australia.
AgForce is vehemently opposed to any compulsory acquisition of agricultural land for the purpose of Defence expansions.
We are well aware the Federal Government has the power to enforce compulsory acquisitions, but we believe forcing agricultural producers off their land for the benefit of the Singaporean army is an abuse of that power.
It highlights how Governments just don’t understand what it takes to produce food and fibre in this country. Politicians just don’t get it.
The landholders affected are good cattle producers, they are not land dealers. They don’t want to lose their own piece of paradise.
The fact 400 people crammed into the Marlborough Town Hall this week and were spilling out on to the street shows this has struck a chord far beyond the farmers directly affected, with local businesses and families worried about what it will mean for their communities.
The process and the proposal from the Department of Defence is unacceptable, and there simply must be an alternative to compulsory acquisition of farm land.
AgForce will continue to do everything possible to assist landholders during this difficult and uncertain time, and to ensure politicians understand the devastating impact this land grab could have on farming families, regional small businesses and the wider community.
Grant Maudsley is the General President of AgForce QLD.
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