Against CSG? Then 'chip in at the check-out'
CONSUMERS and business owners against coal seam gas production have been given a chance to filter transactions through a new stamp of approval.
Gasfield Free Brands coordinator Suzie Coulston said the trademark campaign was in its "start-up phase" but already had 11 applicants after a soft launch of the brand on social media the night before an official launch in Lismore yesterday.
She said the branding was aimed at landholders - mainly farmers - as well as produce sellers, including stallholders at farmers' markets, and other businesses not necessarily connected directly to farming.
Power company signs up
Ms Coulston said energy retailer Power Smart was the first non-farming related business to apply for Gasfield Free branding.
Companies or individuals wanting to apply for the label had to sign a declaration to be gasfield free, meaning no gas-related infrastructure could be found on their properties and they would not use water impacted by gas companies.
Ms Coulston said brand applicants were also expected to commit to the ethos of "For the Love of the Land and the Future of our Children" and to promote the brand by engaging in community discussions about the issue of coal seam gas.
"We're asking consumers to 'chip in at the check-out'," she said.
She said organisers would evaluate the success of the Northern Rivers program in March or April 2017 before deciding whether or not to expand nationally.
Bentley Blockade cattleman branded
Northern Rivers' cattle farmer Charlie Wilkinson was at the launch.
"Our property would've been one of the ones targeted by (energy company) Metgasco, so it was fitting for my wife and I to be a part of this" said Mr Wilkinson.
"It's our way of saying we're committed against CSG.
"We'll be putting the sign with the logo up on our farm gate and we always do our best to support businesses who supported us during the Bentley Blockade that happened at our property.
"Our aim is to lighten our footprint on farmland and to protect future generations."
Tea tree farmers sign up
Sarah and Barry Fletcher have had their tea tree farm in the Clarence Valley branded Gasfield Free.
"I first heard about CSG in 2012 when some protesters showed up at our gate because there was an exploratory well down the road," Mrs Fletcher said.
"I didn't know there were so many people wanting to protect my tea trees, it's wonderful."
"We were directly affected by noise from the massive machinery and the aggressiveness of the company," Mr Fletcher said.
"We did some research on CSG and were horrified by the results.
"The last few years have shown how badly it (CSG mining) impacts water and the ground and for tea tree you need good, clean water.
"We're in touch with the president of the tea tree association, so there's an opening for us to inform other tea tree farmers of the industry association."
Roll up, roll up!
"A lot of people in the region know us already," said Meg Nielson, a spokeswoman for Northern Rivers Gasfield Free Brands.
"I was one of the farmers in the Bentley Blockade.
"A lot of people supported us but couldn't come because they had businesses and most of them are keen to substantiate their ethos so this is their opportunity."