Livestock SA is seeking a $25 million funding injection for the South Australian Dog Fence as a major piece of rural infrastructure contributing to the viability of sheep and cattle farming across the nation.
Livestock SA President Joe Keynes says all parties contesting the Federal Election must acknowledge the vital role of the fence to livestock production, environmental protection and community benefit. He says it plays a huge role in supporting a sustainable agriculture industry.
“The current state of the Dog Fence is a major concern for Livestock SA. Sections of the fence, some of which are more than 100 years old, are in dire need of replacement,” Mr Keynes said.
“With the current drought conditions, the fence is under constant pressure from wild dogs and, in addition, kangaroos, emus and feral camels. We are increasingly seeing incursions of these animals into ‘inside’ country and we know this will only get worse as parts of the fence fall further into disrepair.
“As livestock producers, we know our industry could be so much more productive and profitable if we had this support.”
Last month, a BDO Econsearch report*, jointly commissioned by the State Government and the South Australian Dog Fence Board, showed that replacing sections of the ageing Dog Fence would generate a net benefit to SA of up to $120.3 million over 20 years. The estimated cost to repair the fence is $25 million.
“These figures demonstrate there will be a clear return on investment to the industry and hence the national economy in providing a funding boost to this ageing infrastructure,” Mr Keynes said.
The key findings of the report include:
• A new dog fence will reduce wild dog management costs for pastoralists by up to $97 million.
• Sheep enterprise sales income is expected to increase by up to $69.7 million. Additional jobs created from the fence upgrades are expected to be 14 in the first year, 63 by the third year and 27 by the twentieth year.
• If the dog fence is not replaced, pastoralists’ investment in wild dog management is expected to more than quadruple by 2038 from $2.3 million to between $10.6 million and $13.95 million.
“A forecast quadrupling of costs for wild dog management is just going to cripple the livestock industry in pastoral areas. These forecast costs are just too much to bear, particularly in the current circumstances as drought continues and producers pay high prices for fodder just to keep their breeding stock.”