I recently had the pleasure of joining one of our fantastic staff, Jess Lill, on a farm visit that highlighted just how the CCMA works with farmers in our region to help them to look after their land and run successful enterprises.
The farmers that we visited had heard about the potential for offsets to pay for environmental protection on their property. They were keen to understand this possible new source of income and to know if they had native vegetation on their property that might be suitable for offsets.
After they had contacted two commercial organisations about offsets and had come away more confused than when they started a neighbouring farmer suggested that they contact the CCMA because “they’re really helpful.” And so they rang the CCMA and Jess arranged to go out to their property and have a look with them and chat about what they have and what options might be available.
When I arrived, Jess was down in the shearing shed where the farmers were finishing off some crutching. We hopped into their ute and they told us their story as they drove us to see a couple of locations on their farm.
Jess spent the next hour or so helping the farmers to identify the native plants on their property and providing advice on the quality of the vegetation that they had. It was in winter and so nothing was in flower, making definitive identification hard but Jess offered to come back in spring when the plants would be in flower and easier to identify and left them with a bundle of CCMA field guides on plants and animals of the Victorian Volcanic Plains (thanks to the Victorian and Australian Government programs that funded these).
Jess also provided advice on the best way to manage the native vegetation to keep it healthy. And no, that didn’t mean locking it up and not using it because grazing at the right time of year and the right intensity would stop the grasses from swamping the flowers and herbs. Jess also talked with the farmers about the various options that might be available to them to get support to look after the vegetation. This included using covenants as part of an offset program and Jess provided them with the contact details of the local Trust for Nature office who could help with that. And she told them about the types of grants programs that the CCMA offers; we don’t have a suitable program on the cards at the moment but Jess committed to contact the farmers when we were running the next suitable grants program or similar.
At the end of the visit:
- The farmers were much more aware of what native vegetation they had on their property and very excited about it;
- The farmers were more motivated to look after the special vegetation they have (there is only less than 3% of the original Victorian Volcanic Plains vegetation left and they have some nice examples of that);
- The farmers had a better understanding of how offsets work, who they could talk to if they wanted to pursue that and also what other support programs might be available;
- Jess and I had heard wonderful stories of brolgas breeding on the farm;
- I’d seen one of our great staff work incredibly professionally and respectfully with a couple of farmers, showing great understanding for their business and their interests; and
- A strong positive relationship had been started between the CCMA and some farmers we’d never had contact with before (and thanks to the neighbor for recommending us).
The total cost to the farmers? Absolutely nothing.
So what can we help you with? -Graham Phelps, CEO Corangamite CMA