Weed inquiry vital for farmers
COSTING the agricultural industry at least $4 billion annually, the impact of weeds like the giant rat's tail grass will be the focus of an investigation by a Queensland State Parliament Inquiry.
For people like Kandanga grazier and cattle producer John Mercer, it's a crucial step forward in the fight against a crippling problem.
"We have 750 acres here at Kandanga, and I can spend up to $20,000 a year with spraying contractors just mainly controlling giant rat's tail grass, and I don't think we're winning,” Mr Mercer said.
"I probably should be spending up to $30,000 a year.
"It's a huge drain on us.”
He said the impact on the industry if these weeds aren't brought under control would be devastating in the long run.
"Your property values crash.
"A badly infested rats tail property, if you could find anyone to buy it, would probably be 30% of it's original value.
"And that country becomes non-productive,” he said.
According to Mr Mercer, the different weeds all managed to be invasive nuisances for different reasons, but all added up to one giant headache for farmers and graziers.
"Fireweed's a major problem in small areas, and prickly acacia is a major problem in in some areas, whereas this rat's tail grass it's just a massive problem right up the eastern seaboard, and probably further west now as well.”
He said he was pleased to see governments starting to take a closer look at the problem, although he believes they're not guilt free themselves.
"Some of the worst problems are that the government departments don't control it within their own state forests,” he said.
Mr Mercer said he hoped governments would continue to research effective chemicals and biological control to help solve the problem.
"Rat's tail in particular is so aggressive.
"The biggest problem is your trying to cure grass in grass country.
"More has to be done, because we're losing the battle.”
Having pushed for the inquiry, Member for Gympie Tony Perrett said it was necessary for governments to solve a problem which was having a major impact on an important industry.
"These weeds are significantly impacting Queensland's $12 billion agriculture sector and we need to support directing and increasing government funding into research into biological controls and new technologies in the 'war on weeds',” he said.
Mr Perrett said almost every Gympie landowner was afflicted with giant rat's tail grass, and urged local landholders to make submissions so the impact of current control measures was made clear.