NSW Farmers' Call For Exclusion Fencing Funding

The Land, Samantha Townsend, 7/8/2019

They are competing with livestock for pasture, they are decimating crops and are causing havoc on highways - and farmers are fed up.

With kangaroos numbers "out of control" in many parts of NSW including the southern Riverina, farmers are calling for the State Government to fund kangaroo exclusion fencing.

With a zero general water security allocation in the southern Murray Darling Basin, Amanda Barlow from the NSW Farmers' Deniliquin branch, told delegates at their conference that farmers needed to preserve every blade of grass and cropping country where possible.

"Kangaroo numbers are out of control. We had a bad season last year as it was dry where roos decimated our 282 hectare creek block and although they have eased off as we've had some rain, it won't be long before they are back in big numbers again," Mrs Barlow said.

Mrs Barlow, who has spent around $35,000 on exclusion fencing, said it had been a proven way of excluding kangaroos from productive farmland but it was expensive costing between $4000 and $7000 a kilometre.

In the 2015-2016 Pest and Weed Drought Funding program, she said the government offered up to 50 per cent of funding towards the cost of pest or exclusion fencing, which was distributed by the Local Lands Services.

But she said not all areas were included in the funding, such as the southern Riverina, and the emphasis was on pest, not native animals like kangaroos. She said Queensland had led the way with exclusion fencing and since 2015 it had committed $19.74 million with the construction of cluster fences and the control of invasive plants and animals.

While she was aware of the NSW Government's farm loans schemes, she said: "what farmer wants to take on more debt especially in this drought."

Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the NSW Government offered farmers two loan schemes to assist with purchasing materials and constructing exclusion fencing. These include the Farm Innovation Fund, which provides up to $1m interest free loan and the Drought Assistance Fund that provides a $50,000 interest free loan.

"There is no doubt we are in the worst drought on record and kangaroos are exacerbating the problems farmers are facing by damaging fences and eating what little pasture is left on the ground," Mr Marshall said.

Meanwhile NSW Farmers' are also calling on the State Government to facilitate cross border arrangements for licenced professional kangaroo shooters and allow delivery of carcasses to he closest available box regardless of which state it is in. Currently shooters need a licence in both NSW and Queensland to operate in both states.