It’s been a long wait for cluster fencing but it might soon be over.
Primary producers across the Longreach region are lining up in anticipation for the Queensland Feral Pest Initiative to sign off on the $5.45 million cluster fencing project and begin the rollout across the central west.
Funding will be dispersed by RAPAD across the 6 regions of Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall-Tambo, Winton, Barcoo and Flinders.
RAPAD CEO David Arnold hopes to see action on the ground in the next three to six months, with expressions of interest reaching up to 30 clusters in the Central West region.
“Incredibly, all the interest for cluster fencing is covering around 3 million hectares, so we have people just waiting for it to happen now,” Mr Arnold says.
“We’ve been advocating for a while now and it’s finally coming to fruition. I know other projects are also awaiting funding and should be underway sometime soon.”
In recent consultations across the state by the Rural Debt and Drought Taskforce, cluster fencing was frequently cited as a part of the solution to revive agricultural industries.
The cluster fencing project is a game changer for locals that could mean the difference between closing up or becoming profitable and drought resistant.
“We have our legalities in place, draft application forms ready, and the assessment panel just about picked,” Mr Arnold says.
“Once everything has been signed and the agreements lodged, DAF expects the funding to flow quickly.”
They hope to receive final approvals and have projects underway in two weeks’ time.
It’s a move to be welcomed further into the south west.
Graziers across Balonne, Bulloo, Maranoa, Murweh, Paroo and Quilpie regions are also eager to get started.
“We’re now developing the expressions of interest, project application forms and selection criteria, so as soon as we find out and everything is signed off, the rollout begins,” says SW NRM Resource Economist, Jon Grant.
“Now, people are calling up daily asking where are we at, what’s the latest and we have pages of names on waiting lists already,” continues Grant.
“So I think it’s going to be highly competitive once everything is signed off.”
All involved hold out hope that this won’t be the last support they receive.
Drought sustainability measures and cooperation by all government and industry is vital to ensure long term regional growth.