Across the Upper Hunter winter cereal and oilseed crops look a picture and this is combined with record cattle and lamb prices

SEA OF YELLOW: Five-year-old Lucy Campbell takes an early morning walk to check a canola crop on her family's farm at Merriwa. Photo: Karen Campbell, Merriwa
SEA OF YELLOW: Five-year-old Lucy Campbell takes an early morning walk to check a canola crop on her family's farm at Merriwa. Photo: Karen Campbell, Merriwa
Record cattle prices are underpinning the restock market with cows and calves in high demand. Photo supplied.

Record cattle prices are underpinning the restock market with cows and calves in high demand. Photo supplied.

Across the Upper Hunter winter cereal and oilseed crops look a picture and this is combined with record cattle and lamb prices.

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a wetter than average spring things are looking very promising for the region's farmers.

Last week saw another record price paid for a bull this time $280,000 for Millah Murrah Paratrooper an Angus sire from the Thompson family's stud was bought by Rodger Pryce of Brooklana Angus, Dorrigo.

Australia's lamb market is continuing to be strong, with the National Trade Lamb Indicator climbing to an unprecedented 951c/kg.

The figure was reached last month marking the first time ever the NTLI had gone over 950/kg.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indictor was once again hovering close to 990c/kg/cwt and for the croppers canola was also getting close to $900/tonne another commodity record price.

So what is there not to smile about for the agriculture sector at the moment?

For Merriwa farmers the only dark cloud is the soon to be released route of the proposed Transgrid high voltage power lines that will be built to connect the Central West's Renewable Zone to the Hunter and beyond. TransGrid are planning to build two high voltage 500KV power lines - 180km long, through productive farming land which runs from Merriwa North West towards Cassilis and then south of Dunedoo towards Wellington.

Wheat crop on the Campbell family's property at Merriwa. Photo: Karen Campbell.

Wheat crop on the Campbell family's property at Merriwa. Photo: Karen Campbell.

Representatives from Merriwa-Cassilis Alliance (MCA), TransGrid and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) Working Group came together in a virtual meeting in August to discuss TransGrid's shortlist of alternative study corridor options.

The MCA have received a written commitment from the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, that "we will go back to the drawing board and explore all corridor options", he goes on to say that "the project should not be built at the expense of productive agricultural land if there are options that include utilising state-owned land".

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has also expressed full support for the removal of the proposed study corridor through the Merriwa Plateau along with the Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall who in a letter to the MCA " I strongly support your objectives".

Despite the political support gained by the MCA and the fact that TransGrid have identified and mapped nine viable alternative study corridors to the south, TransGrid are still recommending their original proposed study corridor across the heart of prime agricultural land on the Merriwa Cassilis plateau as part of that short list.

According to the MCA even after extensive commitments of landowners time, TransGrid are not listening to the Merriwa Cassilis community and their actions certainly haven't changed since we began this Working Group.

The Merriwa plateau is a highly productive parcel of land in the Upper Hunter. Identified by DPIE as Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), it makes up only 2.49% of NSW land. It is uniquely important agricultural land and should be safeguarded.