Thursday, November 07, 2013

New Government's priorities: actions vs words

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said…"it means just what I choose it to mean… "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all." 

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has taken funds originally destined for sustainable agriculture projects under the Caring for our Country and Landcare programs and moved them to drought relief and water resources. “The Coalition had promised there would be no cuts to Landcare if it was elected,” reports ABC Rural. “Mr Joyce denies that the redirection of funds constitutes a cut.” He said: "I think a reasonable person looking at this would say it definitely assists sustainable agriculture programs."
"If you think of the countervailing view, if I had all my cattle at one watering point in a corner of a paddock, that is not assisting the land. That is actually causing a problem in the care of the land. The more I can get those cattle to evenly pasture across my property, the better I can look after the property. "That is certainly a Landcare attribute."
To claim disaster relief as part of sustainability is stretching the English language.  Sustainable means proceeding without need of intervention. Drought in northern NSW and Queensland and unseasonal frosts in southern NSW and northern Victoria are only the latest in a kaleidoscope of localised weather events or ”variable weather patterns” that appear to be accelerating as time passes. Steering resources out of Caring For Our Country and Landcare, long-term programs promoting resilience, and into emergency relief could be ominous. Even a significant element of water infrastructure funding cannot replace the role that climate smart farming can play in transitioning to new farming practices that suit the times.
Even the National Farmers Federation - in welcoming the $380m to be divided between the States - expressed concern at the cuts to sustainable farming budgets.
We hope this is only a temporary diversion due to circumstances and not a policy position that sees sustainable farming as socialism in the guise of agricultural management reform.

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