Future bleak for farming on Tweed

ANOTHER Tweed farmer has joined warnings that the end is nigh for agriculture on the Tweed unless all levels of government help out.

Byangum farmer Mike Yarrow has warned that while farmers nationally are hurting due to rising costs and no increase in returns for decades, the Tweed faces extra difficulties because of the price of land and the interference of government.

He warned that for many years the future of Tweed land, whether it was good for farming or not, had been decided by “what the experts believe the tourists want” or by council rules “trying to go back to the 100-acre policy of years gone by”.

“If we sold our farm today,” Mr Yarrow said, “it would immediately become a rural residential property, with not one intent of ever producing food here again”.

“All of our created and established infrastructure... like our 32-megalitre dam; our 100 internal roads; our three kilometres of four inch underground irrigation mains; our terracing of 40 acres…all would be wasted.”

He said Australia’s “political pandering to voters by forcing the food produced by the farmer to compete against cheap overseas imports” has destroyed farming.

Even those farmers with a “vision as to how our lifetime’s work can be continued for the betterment of the shire” had no forum or committee they could put their ideas to.

“We farmers need to be included in discussions, not deliberately ignored,” he said.

Mr Yarrow said he would like to be allowed to do a community-titled, fenceless, horticultural development “where the people would earn real money working in town, yet could grow and sell their produce locally”.

The project would use his knowledge from 35 years of farming and focus on organic farming.

He criticised proposals to reduce the current 40-hectare minimum lot size for rural land to 30 hectares.

“If a farmer does decide to chop 30 acres off, he will find that his land sale price will just about cover the associated costs like, surveying, ground works, and council contributions,” he said.

“In short, he will have devalued his property, and come out with no financial gain.

“If the farmer foolishly does decide to still cut off 30 acres, the new buyer will come in full of enthusiasm as we all did so many years ago. Within a year he will be telling people that there is no money in what he is growing.”

“Soon he will put the place on the market because he now realises that he was losing money faster than he could earn it.

“Lastly a new buyer will come along. He will build a big mansion, a big shed to house his new 4WD, his big tandem axle caravan, his big boat, plus a tractor to mow the grass. The 30 acres will never produce food again.”

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