• Loddon Herald

Farmers' cactus prickle

LOCAL farmers have blasted the State Government’s “softly softly” approach to eradication of wheel cactus in the Loddon.

And the Vicrorian Farmers’ Federation Wedderburn branch says unless there is a change of attitude from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the the plant will threaten productive farm land.

President Graham Nesbit said Parks Victoria did not have the resources to conduct labour-intensive eradication programs on public land,

“They just haven’t got the personnel. And if they haven’t, why should the burden of time and cost be imposed on farmers for a problem that is rooted on government land,” he said.

“The Government is good at making decisions to earn praise and credit from urban people but those decisions only put the burden back onto country people.”

Mr Nesbit said wheel cactus in Mount Buckrabanyule had been almost controlled a decade ago but had now spread south to the Sunday Hills park.

“It’s back spreading from public land to primary producers’ properties,” he said.

Mr Nesbit said the VFF branch was also worried that DEWLP was not enforcing control of wheel cactus on land owned by non-residents.

“They have the authority to make landowners take action, make them pay, but they take the softly softly approach.”

He said the spread of wheel cactus could potentially impact more than half the state.

“There’s already a line of wheel cactus basically from Talbot (near Maryborough) to Boort on public and broadace land,” Mr Nesbit said.

“There’s the spread of the cactus into paddocks from public land and seeds are also being spread by birds, up to 5km away.

“It’s not just impacting broadace farming in the Loddon. If the needles get into fleeces, that’s as bad as not getting rain for a farmer ... the fleeces are next to useless.”

Mr Nesbit said local VFF members wanted the State Government to properly fund and resource an intensive poisoning program to combat and eradicate wheel cactus.

The Loddon Herald contacted DEWLP for comment. The the department said a response would be provided for the next edition.

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