Saturday, 7 April 2018

The Wanton Worship of Woody Weeds

By Viv Forbes,

Greens worship woody weeds. Their proposed tree-clearing bans in Queensland are the latest salvo in a long war favouring trees and damaging grasslands and pastoralists.

For millennia Australia’s open forests and treeless plains have supported our national emblems – the kangaroo and the emu, which in turn sustained aborigines, eagles and dingos. Australian grasslands also nurtured now-endangered species such as bustards, quail, pigeons, finches and grass parrots.

Nothing stands still in nature. Savannas are forever a battleground between grassland, scrub and desert. Greens gaze in rapture at the trees but ignore the valuable grasses beneath their feet – native plants like Mitchell Grass and Kangaroo Grass and cultivated grasses like wheat, barley, oats, sorghum and sugar cane.

Greens hate grazing animals like cattle and sheep (but not wildebeest!) and, like trained parrots, repeat the hard-hoof fairy-tale about soil compaction and erosion. In reality, hoof action breaks crusty soil. A short burst of concentrated animal impact with hoof cultivation, seed burial, and application of dung and urine fertilisers does wonders for the long-term health of the pasture. It is not a question of hard hooves or soft paws - it is a grazing management question. A healthy pasture needs grasses, herbs, legumes and periodic grazing animals – shut out the ruminants, or stock heavily and continuously, and you will get weeds and desert.

Greens favour “Do Nothing Pasture Management”. Along with their bans on mechanical or chemical control of tree invasions, they try to prevent bushfires which have for millennia maintained the vigour of the grasslands. To have healthy pasture requires recycling of nutrients from old dead grass before the summer rains. This is best achieved by concentrated short-term hoof impact or by controlled burning (both of which may also kill tree seedlings that are forever trying to invade the grasslands).

Greens are always nibbling away at grasslands and open forests by demanding ever more nationalised parks, conservation zones and other green blockades. Instead of supporting graziers with their productive pastures and grazing animals they create ever-expanding sterilised un-managed areas which become havens for weeds like lantana, prickly pear, cactus and wait-a-while and pests like feral dogs, wild pigs and wild cats.

Proposed new Queensland laws will hinder landowners in harvesting mulga scrub during drought and controlling invasion of grasslands by woody weeds. These destructive green bans plus the unjust Kyoto tree-clearing land seizures are part of the global Green plan to drive farmers and graziers from much of the land.

The great value of ruminants is their efficiency in converting the vegetation of poorer grasslands and open forest into edible proteins and fats. ALP/Green policies will reduce the supply of this truly free-range food and increase our dependence on feedlot food, which is worse for the environment and our health.

And for those who believe the greenhouse warming fable, grassland plants remove the bogey-man (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. This carbon collected by grazing animals ends up in long-term storage in human bodies via meat and other animal food products. At the end of their life, most human bodies get sequestered in carbon-based coffins and buried in carbon cemeteries. Greens should be happy with that, but the plant world will gradually suffer from this relentless loss of the gas of life from the biosphere.

The bureaucracy of our “Brave New Green World” will use drones, spy cameras and computer programs to trap and punish any grazier who dares to defend his grassland from invading trees.

Instead of tree clearing bans we need to free our land managers for a war on woody weeds using controlled burning, better grazing management and reversal of the unjust Kyoto land sterilisation program.


Viv Forbes has a degree in Applied Science, and long experience in soil science, pasture management and breeding and managing cattle and sheep.

Further Reading:

Saving the Grasslands with grazing animals by Alan Savory (well worth watching):

What landowners think of the proposed vegetation management bans:

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Why Bother?

Hell bent on making changes to the Vegetation Management Act, the Qld ALP Palaszczuk government is showing disregard to the hands-on knowledge of farming families.  They don’t appear to be listening, so why bother writing a submission. Reluctantly, after a number of people made the request, I sat down at my keyboard the eve submissions closed and went to write a one pager to basically say F U. However something a little more positive emerged, with a little more optimism, that perhaps, just maybe sometime in the dim distant future that the  collective light bulb will go off, bringing a new dawn of a better way of working together. The cynic in me doesn’t give it much hope – anyway this is my submission.

photo sourced Department of Environment, Commonwealth of Australia

The very premise of the Vegetation Management Act (VMA) is at fault to the point that it is not amendments that should be under consideration but a journey to replacement legislation that aims to achieve genuine consultation with the people most subject to the current Act’s apparent tyranny.

The Regional Vegetation Management Plans (RVMP’s) was the last time there was genuine consultation and two-way communication between government and rural landowners. This process was designed to initiate a cooperative and consultative approach on how to best to manage the balance of vegetation management and farming. As history has shown, common sense did not prevail and these were discarded in act of duplicity by the then Premier and government and the VMA introduced.

The approach taken in the VMA was also repeated in changes across the board to how government interacted with agricultural producers.  The core of the VMA champions coercion and discards cooperation. It saw the change of agency staff working with farmers in an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect to that of policing, prosecution and distrust. Previous important practical and common-sense “in the field conservation measures” were abandoned to remote, austere and antagonistic direction based on a political imperative and bending to the whims of the green movement. 

Such methodology creates distrust, division and resentment. It creates minimal adherence to an alien constraint to the realities that agricultural producers live, work and know. Loss of hope prevails to a level where farming families see no future for the young adults to come back to the farm and continue with agriculture as a career path. The urban politician who make these types of laws and the public servant who administers the law appear oblivious to how they, through these legislative instruments, indifference and ignorance, cripple the farming community and all those other levels of the community reliant on farmers being able to continue effective and profitable farming.

Some of us have been in the debate about vegetation management for over three decades now.  Even though we work, live in and have a long intimate relationship with the land, there is a sense of being treated as only a minor stakeholder whose views are consistently overridden by more powerful interests. It has been a degrading and humiliating experience being used as a political yo-yo during the many changes over the years to the VMA and legislation of its ilk.

One is left more than just a little cynical on why should we continue to play the game of perpetual submission writing, detailing a view on each provision being amended. We, the real custodians of the land, are left with the feeling of being ignored and treated with contempt.

There are those like myself who absorbed the original ethos of the Landcare movement when it first emerged. We, who are interested in practical, hands-on conservation, who know there is a beneficial tree/ grass relationship aiding both environmental and agriculture production criteria, who understand each bio-region is very different and cannot be administered by State-wide blanket legislation, we who do NOT want to knock down every tree but know that vegetation management can be as beneficial to farming as it is to the environment. Simply put, tree clearing itself is not bad, rather it’s a matter of where and how development is conducted.  There are those of us who live assuredly in a role of both the steward for our patch of land and as a provider of food for our society.

We could be prevailed upon to work together to a better legislative future, but until there is genuine demonstrated pathway of goodwill, respect, empathy, understanding and certainty of agreed negotiations be fully honoured, why should we bother? There needs to be a reversal of the current near certainty that we will be completely ignored - Ignored in favour of green groups who have no interest, or knowledge, in the successful integration of farming development and the environment.

This current Bill should be voted down for it ambiguous provisions, the possibility of increasing oppressive outcome, the continued enlarging upon flawed negative counterproductive laws and a total disregard for the opinions of the real
stewards of the land.    

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Battle for our Grasslands and Livestock

By Viv Forbes

Grasslands and arable land cover just 10% of Earth’s surface but (with the oceans) they produce all of our food and fibre. But the productivity and health of our grasslands, farms and livestock are under threat from disproportionate global warming alarmism and immoderate green preservationists.

We are afflicted by methane madness. It is poor public policy that condones restrictions on grazing operations, or taxes on grazing animals, based on disputed theories that claim that bodily emissions from farm animals will cause dangerous global warming.
New Zealand was the first country to propose a “livestock fart tax”. Four hundred farmers then drove 20 tractors to the Parliament in Wellington waving placards and banners saying “STOP THE FART TAX”. The proposal was laughed out of Parliament. But the war on farmers and livestock continues
Used by permission. Cartoonist Steve Hunter.

Ruminants such as sheep, cattle and goats cannot make long-term additions to the gases in the atmosphere - they just recycle atmospheric carbon and nitrogen nutrients in a cycle-of-life that has operated for millennia. Grazing ruminant animals with their emission products have always been part of healthy grasslands.

Many otherwise genuine environmentalists are assisting the destruction of grasslands with their native pastures and endangered grass birds. Blinded by their love for the trees, they neglect the grasses, legumes, herbs and livestock that provide their food. In Australia they pass laws to protect weedy eucalypts invading the grasslands but ignore the valuable and declining Mitchell grass that once dominated Australia’s treeless plains.

Grasslands are also under threat from cultivation for biofuel crops, from subsidised carbon credit forests and from the remorseless encroachment of fire-prone government reserves and pest havens.

We have the modern methane madness. Mobs of grazing ruminants have been roaming the grasslands since cave-man days. Methane has also been seeping from marshes, bubbling out of oceans, leaking from coal seams and oil seeps and being released in huge quantities from volcanoes. So what more can a few domestic cows and sheep do to affect this? Methane from domestic ruminants is a non-problem.

It is a foolish and costly fantasy to believe that Earth’s climate can be controlled by passing laws, imposing taxes, attempting to manipulate the bodily emissions of farm animals or trying to prevent farmers from clearing woody weeds invading their pastures

Read more:

The Clexit (ClimateExit) Coalition, comprising over 190 representatives from 26 countries, has formed the Clexit Grassland Protection Group with nine representatives from five big grazing countries.