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TAS Country : November 18th 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010 Tasmanian Country 9 News GROWING DANGER: There is still time for fuel reduction work. Pictures: CHRIS KIDD Firies alarmed by conditions GOOD SEASON: The wet winter has led to fire hazards. Warm weather forecast concern JENNIFER CRAWLEY A GOOD season means good growth, which is a real cause for concern for fire authorities. Grass is thick in paddocks, on roadsides and in the bush. The Weather Bureau has forecast warmer weather to follow Tasmania's wet winter -- conditions that create dry, ready fuel for fires. Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Mike Brown said Coal River Valley landowners had already started hazard reduction works around their properties. ''This shows us that rural land managers are preparing for the warmer weather and the fire dangers that it presents,'' Mr Brown said. The Tasmanian Fire Service issued a warning this week to the rural community not to become complacent about the danger. The TFS is worried that lush grasses and weeds will fuel the rapid spread of fires, with the potential to destroy livestock and crops -- and claim human lives. Rural land managers, municipal councils and the farming community have been asked by the TFS to act now. ''The Prepare Act Survive message applies to the entire Tasmanian community and must be applied in the farming context,'' Mr Brown said. ''Conditions are still mild enough to allow for hazard reduction burning in most areas, but please notify us when you are burning so fire crews are not called to controlled burn-offs.'' Early this year, smoke and ash reached Hobart and Mt Wellington from a massive fire that burnt through 7000ha and started at Wayatinah more than 100km away. The fire permit period, which allows for safe burning under certain conditions, will be declared later this year. Permit officers will visit sites on request, assess the risks and provide permits. More than 1500 fire permits are issued annually. Mr Brown said the fire permit period did not mean a ban on rural fuel reduction burning. ''There are safe opportunities to conduct burning off during the fire permit periods, and obtaining a permit is relatively simple,'' he said. Mr Brown said TFS statistics showed that farm machinery had caused several fires, and the risk to life and agricultural business interests was substantial. ''We recommend farmers and land owners take care when operating any machinery in and around vegetation,'' he said. For fire permit advice, phone 1800 000 699. Hot-air claim on HGP beef stance HOT TOPIC: Coles ban labelled perverse''. THE move by Coles to ban the use of hormone growth promotants in beef production will increase greenhouse gas emissions, according to a farm research body. The Australian Farm Institute has slammed the supermarket's move, which it says would have ''perverse environmental outcomes''. If HGPs were not used in Aust- ralia, an estimated two million more cattle would be needed each year to produce the same amount of beef, an institute report said. In its October newsletter, the AFI said Coles had ''made a decision that will result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef production''. The report said HGP supplements were used to improve feed-use efficiency and thereby the cattle's growth rates by 15-30 per cent. This meant cattle needed to be fed for shorter periods to reach target weights. It pointed to CSIRO studies that found treating cattle with HGPs reduced methane emissions by 16 per cent over an animal's lifetime. ''If HGPs weren't used in Aust- ralia, it has been estimated the total Australian cattle herd would need to increase by two million head just to produce the same amount of beef, and that could increase greenhouse gas emissions by as much as three million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year,'' it said. The report highlighted research proving that consuming HGP-treated beef does not pose a risk to humans. ''This highlights the folly of adopting a narrow focus on just a single environ- mental or health issue as- sociated with food, without considering the bigger pic- ture, in particular the poten- tial for perverse environ- mental outcomes,'' it said. But a Coles spokesman rejected AFI claims that the change would increase greenhouse gas emissions. ''Coles purchases just 2 per cent of Australia's beef herd each year, and a significant percentage of our beef is already grown without HGPs, so we don't believe our commitment will have any material impact on greenhouse emissions,'' he said. ''Certain beef lobby groups would better serve their industry by spend- ing more time understanding con- sumer views on HGPs, and less time searching for reasons to keep them.'' The Weekly Times
November 11th 2010
November 25th 2010