DOG DAYS: James and Lynette Friss   on their Iredale property. Lyn said wild dogs continued to be a problem for their sheep and calves.
DOG DAYS: James and Lynette Friss on their Iredale property. Lyn said wild dogs continued to be a problem for their sheep and calves. Dominic Elsome

Government pledges extra $23.7m to combat weeds and pests

ADDITIONAL funding to fight established pests and weeds has excited farmers, who say extra support is always needed.

The bill for weed control is about $4.8billion a year, including production losses, and pest animals are estimated to cost up to $800million.

The Federal Government last month announced $23.7million in additional funding in the next four years to stamp out weeds and pests.

It's positive news for Iredale landholders Lynette and James Friss.

The couple run about 30head of sheep and several cattle on their property and have been battling wild dogs for months now.

Mrs Friss said the population of dogs in the area had begun to increase before the drought and the animals were a danger to livestock.

"We've just had three dogs trying to kill one of our calves - luckily the cows chased them away," Mrs Friss said.

While the couple are taking advantage of Lockyer Valley Regional Council's 1080 baiting program, MrsFriss said some landholders in the area weren't participating.

This meant dogs were avoiding the baits and continuing to be a menace, she said.

A lot of people still don't go into the baiting programs, which is a shame - if everybody did it we'd get better coverage.

Mrs Friss said the extra funding from the government to help control weeds and pests was a positive sign.

In the past, government funding had been used to produce a bait to kill feral pigs and deliver wild dog fencing.

Mrs Friss said dog fences would be a huge benefit to the region as many of the dogs appeared to travel into the area from the Toowoomba range.

About $10.3million will also be invested in mapping the distribution and impact of pests and weeds, including changes to the distribution of pests as climate shifts.

This is positive news for the region's horticulture industry, particularly brassica growers who have been battling diamondback moth.

Elders agronomist Greg Teske said warmer winters in the past two years had sped up the life cycle of the pest moth, which had now become a huge problem for local farmers.

States urged to do more

FEDERAL Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has called on state governments to do more to control pests.

Mr Littleproud announced an additional $23.7million in funding to help farmers and land managers stamp out pest animals and weeds, and said the investment was despite the fact states are responsible for pest and weeds.

The funding would be available from July 2019, with a total of $30.3million to be distributed across four years.

"Pest animals and weeds hurt farmers' hip pockets," Mr Littleproud said.

"Twenty million dollars will aim to hit priority pests and weeds with biological controls, key infrastructure and using technology to locate and treat weeds. Grants will be given to organisations which can deliver those things.

"This portion of the funding will also aim to get more farmers using pest and weed control, giving out grants to deliver training and materials to farmers on the ground.

Weeds cost Aussie agriculture around $4.8billion each year, not to mention the drain on time and resources.

Mr Littleproud said the Federal Government had invested $76million in the past four years, but more was needed.

"The fact is state governments need to do their bit too," he said.

Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner was contacted for comment but did not respond.

The funding details will be released in coming months.


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