Local farmers follow Spencer

IT IS not just Canberra that can host a meeting of disgruntled farmers.

Close to 100 primary producers from Kyogle, Casino, Coraki and Lismore met in Lismore on Sunday as part of a widening campaign against native vegetation laws.

The Lismore meeting followed a 4000-strong protest by farmers last week in the nation’s capital.

The Canberra salvo came after the lone efforts of Peter Spencer, who spent 52 days until January 13 on a hunger strike, suspended from a platform on his property in rural New South Wales protesting about restrictions on land use.

Sunday’s Lismore meeting called on the State Government to repeal its native vegetation laws, which ban native land clearing without consent.

One of the meeting organisers, Marshall Fittler, said some Northern Rivers farmers would attend another rally outside State Parliament on February 24.

Further meetings are also planned to be held at the Casino RSM on Thursday evening and Kyogle Bowling Club this Saturday.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard is also likely to hear from concerned farmers when she visits the Page electorate next Tuesday.

In response to the lobbying, last week the Senate announced it will hold an inquiry into the effect of land clearing on farmers.

Mr Fittler said it would be a case of wait and see regarding the inquiry.

“It’s okay to have an inquiry. But it’s the outcome that matters,” he said.

The inquiry announcement was welcomed by the NSW Farmers Federation.

“We are extremely worried that farmers continually face an erosion of their property rights through legislation that often doesn’t recognise the impact,” association president Charles Armstrong said.

He said the Productivity Commission estimated the cost to farmers not being able to develop their land was $600 million annually.

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