​Joint Media Release

Ag White Paper delivers $1 million to combat pest animals & weeds in SA

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
SA Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Leon Bignell

2 November 2015

The Australian Government continues to deliver on its commitment to better drought and risk management under the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, with up to $1 million to combat pest animals and weeds across drought-affected parts of South Australia. 

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and South Australian Minister for Agriculture Leon Bignell, said the Australian Government had agreed to the South Australian Government's request for funding for projects to tackle a range of pest animals and weeds in drought affected areas. 

Minister Joyce said he was pleased that South Australia will be using this funding to tackle the scourge of wild dogs, with projects to strengthen a 60 kilometre section of the state's Dog Fence, and to fund tools for better on-farm dog control. 

"Wild dogs are estimated to cost our agriculture sector up to $66 million per year in livestock losses, disease transmission and controls—and that doesn't account for the distress and frustration wild dog attacks can cause. 

"Upgrading South Australia's Dog Fence has been identified as a priority action under the draft South Australian Wild Dog Strategic Plan and as part of the state's delivery of the National Wild Dog Action Plan. 

"The impacts of pest animals and weeds are felt even more keenly during drought, putting additional pressure on farm productivity and profitability at a time when farm operations are already under strain," Minister Joyce said today. 

Minister Bignell said the funding would also be used for projects to combat feral pests such as camels, rabbits and foxes, as well as for the control of priority weeds and cacti. 

"Some areas of South Australia are experiencing drought and the South Australian and Commonwealth Governments are working together to deliver real, practical support to communities doing it tough," he said. 

"Feral pests cause havoc by destroying infrastructure and livestock and their numbers are growing. All of the projects are on-ground and targeted to areas in the Far North and upper South East of South Australia." 

"Our Biteback program in the State's Far North is making inroads in tackling wild dog numbers inside the dog fence, and I'm pleased further funding has been made available for these initiatives—as I'm sure local farmers and communities would also be." 

Minister Joyce said that the Australian Government would work with the South Australian Government to commence work on projects as soon as possible.

"Projects will be delivered by the Dog Fence Board, local natural resource management bodies and farmers in drought-affected areas, who can use their local knowledge and skills to the greatest effect," Minister Joyce said. 

"We understand that many producers across South Australia are feeling the impacts of drought, and we are committed to ensuring they have access to real, practical support when they need it most. 

"We're already delivering on our commitment under the Ag White Paper to invest $2.97 billion to support farmers and rural communities to strengthen drought preparedness and risk management, and another $100 million in total to pest and weed management and eradication." 

"Commonwealth Government Drought Concessional Loans are now available, as well as additional community mental health and family support; more funding for Rural Financial Counselling Service providers in drought-affected areas; and projects to help farmers manage risk by providing more localised, accurate climate forecasts, and to help them evaluate options for insurance and risk management." 

For more information on the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, visit agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.  

The Australian Government has a range of support measures available for farmers and rural communities experiencing drought and other hardship, including concessional loans, income support through the Farm Household Allowance, and free financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service. For more information, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.