CLIMATE is the key challenge farmers face, making the decision to redraw the boundaries of the central tablelands’ Local Land Services (LLS) to include Orange the right one, according to the organisation’s inaugural chair Ian Armstrong.
The former deputy premier, agriculture minister, and Cowra-based chair of the Lachlan Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has been involved in the land for the last 60 years.
He will now oversee an area spanning the council areas of Orange, Cabonne, Bathurst, Blayney, Cowra, Oberon, Lithgow and Mid-Western Regional as the LLS chair.
Although the region takes in the catchments of three major rivers and has diverse agricultural production, he believes it is the right fit climatically and socially.
“There’s always challenges for farmers because of the climate, it dictates 90 per cent of what a farmer does and the other thing is the economy,” he said.
“That’s where the LLS can help the farming community by having sustainability of the environment and of farming.”
The decision to merge the 14 Livestock Health and Pest authorities (LHPA), 13 Catchment Management authorities (CMA), and the Department of Primary Industries’ advisory services into 11 Local Land Services (LLS) area was met with concern by some.
But Mr Armstrong is confident the new “holistic” model will work.
“Otherwise I wouldn’t have taken the position as chairman,” he said.
“Control of pests and animal diseases is another important thing and that’s where the departments involvement with the LLS is critical,” he said.
He hopes to get more involvement from the Aboriginal community, building on their input in the Lachlan CMA, but his immediate priority will be to look at the outcome of this year’s harvest.
“The tablelands area from Bathurst to Oberon is pretty dry for this time of year,” he said.
“My first priority will be how we handle a better season, an average season and a poor season.”
The CMA’s system of giving each town a chance at hosting a meeting was another thing he hopes to replicate for the LLS.
Mr Armstrong said plans were yet to be drawn up about how the state government’s $35 million fund for the 11 LLS regions will be spent, but a reporting system will be in place to ensure it is managed to the best interests.
“There will still very much be a number of offices throughout the LLS area and the staff allocations will come out shortly,” he said.