Stuart Burge elected

Local agronomist Stuart Burge has been successful in his bid for the newly formed South East Local Land Services board (SE LLS).

Mr Burge was up against a big field of 36 candidates for the three elected board member positions for the inaugural SE LLS board.

Four other local Monaro canditates put up their hands for the board positions, but were unsuccessful.

Mr Burge said he was delighted to be elected to the board, and was honoured to represent landholders in the region.

"If you start with the premise that LLS is about farmers, the starting point should be awareness of the need to enhance profitability of the farming community," Mr Burge said.

"You've got to be in the black to be in the green.

"In other words, landowners and farmers have to be profitable before they can care for the environment."

Mr Burge stressed the need for the LLS to engage with landholders.

"If you care about farming and the needs of the environment and the needs of the natural environment - NRM issues (natural resource management) it is essential that this system works," he said.

Mr Burge conceded that there was a low voter turn out.

"It is extremely disappointing," Mr Burge said.

Mr Burge said one factor may be that people had an expectation that as a ratepayer they would be automatically entitled to vote.

"The low voter turnout may also suggest that farmers are either not interested, or cynical about the new LLS.

"And therefore, it is essential that we gain the trust of landholders."

The Express contacted the SE LLS board chair David Mitchell to confirm the number of registered voters in the SE LLS region, which unofficial sources put at 1,500 out of a possible 23,000 rural rate payers.

Mr Mitchell was unavailable for comment at the time the paper went to print.

The Express also understands only 900 landholders actually voted.

Mr Burge is well qualified to represent landholders interests, with extensive involvement with farmers throughout the south east of NSW for over 30 years as a district agronomist with NSW Department of Primary Industries, based in Cooma and more recently as a private agronomist.

He runs a small irrigation and grazing property at Numeralla and breeding cross bred lambs.

He has worked in both the public and private sectors, with landowners on the Monaro as well as the southern tablelands and south coast, providing practical on-farm advice on all aspects of land, property and natural resource management, with a focus upon pasture agronomy, grazing management and whole farm planning.

Mr Burge has also undertaken extensive research on a broad range of key pasture, crop and natural resource management issues.

"I have conducted field days, farm walks and meetings with various farmer and land-care groups and have been closely involved with the development and implementation of regional weed control programs," Mr Burge said.

"I have a sound understanding of the agricultural systems and patterns of land use in the region together with personal appreciation of the many and varied issues confronting land owners."

Mr Burge has an impressive resume including being a regional facilitator for Meat and Livestock Australia Ltd's Sustainable Grazing Systems Program for the Southern Tablelands and Monaro, and a regional facilitator of the Triple P (Productive Pastures Program) for the Southern Tablelands and Monaro and consultant agronomist for the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority's benchmark Monaro Grasslands Project - Snowy Monaro Biodiversity Conservation Project.

Mr Burge is joined by Barry Gay from Cowra and Mac Wilson of Grabben Gullen.

The SE LLS board will meet on April 10 and 11.

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