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Farmers call for greater rights in land access

15 August 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today called for greater landholder protection and negotiation rights in land access agreements between farmers and mining and coal seam gas (CSG) companies.

NFF President Jock Laurie says that open and clear land access agreements are needed to ensure that farmers are aware of their rights and have greater negotiation power when faced with companies seeking exploration and mining licenses.

“Land access agreements are a critical component of the debate around agricultural land, mining and CSG, underpinning the access that companies have to farming land,” Mr Laurie said.

“These agreements exist to set boundaries around the role and responsibilities of the mining and CSG companies while on agricultural land, yet farmers are often unaware of their rights and are overwhelmed, confused and under stress during the negotiations,” Mr Laurie said.

“The NFF is calling for tighter controls around land access agreements so that mining and CSG companies must abide by the terms set, and farmers have a greater understanding of the negotiation process and are able to seek a more equitable outcome.

“The NFF’s position is not about stopping coal or coal seam gas exploration or mining – it is about empowering farmers and giving them a greater right to negotiate proper commercial terms for access to their properties, so that the industries can coexist,” Mr Laurie said.

Mr Laurie’s comments come as the NFF Mining and Coal Seam Gas Taskforce meet in Canberra today to discuss the latest CSG developments and address farmers’ concerns about the industry that is rapidly expanding across QLD and NSW, and into VIC, WA and the NT.

“The CSG issue is yet another example of why we need to have a greater public understanding about the role agriculture plays in maintaining our domestic food security and contributing to the solution to global food security. There must be a long-term focus from the Government on the future of farming, not just a consideration of the short-term financial gains that other industries, like mining and CSG, provide.

“Critically, in any mining or CSG exploration or development, three things must be secured in order to ensure coexistence: no damage to productive agricultural land; no negative impact on valuable water resources and a demonstrated respect for farmers and regional communities,” Mr Laurie said.

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