Farming land is under threat

Grazier Andrew Myles keeps a close watch on his cattle at the CQLX Saleyards yesterday. Andrew wants to see governments protect farming land.
Grazier Andrew Myles keeps a close watch on his cattle at the CQLX Saleyards yesterday. Andrew wants to see governments protect farming land. Allan Reinikka

CENTRAL Queensland miner Andrew Myles knows how tough life can be on the land.

Andrew used to run more than 200 cattle on his property at Monto, but because of drought was forced to pick up a second job at the mines so he could pay the bills.

These days he combines his shift work at Blackwater's Curragh North mine with running about 70 cattle.

Like many graziers at the CQLX Saleyards yesterday at Gracemere, Andrew thinks governments aren't doing enough to protect farming land from the increasing demands of a booming mining industry.

News that prominent Rockhampton cattle baron Graeme Acton had sold his Moray Downs property, 160km north-west of Clermont, for $110m to Indian billionaire Gautam Adani was met with a mixed reaction by graziers.

The Indian has big plans for the land, including developing the State's largest mine, a new town to support its operations, an airstrip for fly-in, fly-out workers and new rail and port facilities in Queensland to help export its coal, predominantly to India.

Mr Acton was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Southern media yesterday reported Mr Acton saying the rural sector faced big challenges in balancing national food security issues with the rush into mining.

"This part of the world will be boom town," he said.

"But we don't want it to get like Russia where we used to joke they'd have to pay us in vodka because they let prime agricultural land go to waste or ruin in the rush into the resources industry."

Rural property agent Lea Taylor said the Moray Downs sale represented outstanding value for Mr Acton.

"It's a great grazing property," Mr Taylor said.

He said while the market for cattle properties was currently down, graziers who owned land above coal had a big advantage when it came to sales.

Mr Taylor said the cattle industry was understandably cautious about its future because of the current approach and imposts enforced on it by both the State and Federal Governments.

Rural lobby group AgForce is concerned the Adani project will destroy prime cattle grazing land.

AgForce president Brent Finlay said he wanted to know how much of the property was going to be mined and how much of it would be retained for cattle.

"This land that will be mined will never be good for agricultural production again," he told AAP.

Mr Finlay said he was also concerned about environmental impacts and the effect the entire project, including rail, would have on cattle production.

Meanwhile, Andrew Myles wasn't surprised Mr Acton took the money on offer.

He called on State and Federal Governments to make it a more even playing field for farmers.

"I think the mines are going to push things along pretty quickly," Andrew said.

"The Government has to protect farming land, they really need to balance it out."

Topics:  central queensland farming land

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