PROTECTING STOCK: A $6 million State Government commitment to building more cluster fencing is expected to make a dramatic difference to lambing rates in the southwest.
PROTECTING STOCK: A $6 million State Government commitment to building more cluster fencing is expected to make a dramatic difference to lambing rates in the southwest. Contributed

Cluster fencing promise could revive 'decimated' towns

MASSIVE declines in sheep numbers could become a thing of the past, following the promise of a $6 million cash injection to wild dog exclusion fencing in Western Queensland.

Agriculture Minister Mark Furner announced the news at an AgForce industry function and told members he had just signed off on the latest round of funding.

AgForce sheep and wool president, Alan Rae, said exclusion fencing was critical to the resurgence of Queensland's sheep and wool industry.

"Exclusion fencing is a wise and effective investment in the future of Queensland's animal agriculture and the many rural communities who rely on it,” Mr Rae said.

"Each year millions of dollars worth of livestock are killed or maimed by wild dogs and Western Queensland has seen a 75per cent drop in sheep numbers. The economic, employment and social impacts of these stock losses extend well beyond the farm gate.”

A simple fence has been proven to make a marked difference for producers in the west and it is something that wool producer, agent and AgForce southern inland Queensland president Bruce McLeish has seen first-hand.

"I've worked with Elders on their wool side and we had numerous clients in Western Queensland who have had exclusion fences up for several years and their return has gone up from 20per cent to 80 per cent, even in the dry conditions,” he said.

Mr McLeish said that claims this investment could revive the wool industry were "an understatement”.

"When I first started in the wool industry in Blackall, where there were literally millions of sheep, now the town is just decimated,” he said.

"One of the things we have seen so far is for every dollar spent on the cluster fence, there is a return of $3.28 back into the local community.

"Apart from the shearers, it also brings teachers, shops, service stations, transport companies and agents, so the flow-on from the sheep industry is across the board.

"The cluster fences are a game-changer and a lot of areas already have them, so it is a continuation in places like Blackall, Quilpie, St George and Cunnamulla.

"But there is still a lot of fencing to do, so that is where we need to put the pressure on the State and Federal Governments to keep funding them.”


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