Farm plan­ning changes worry

Alpine Observer - - Peo­ple Around Town - By JAMIE KRO­N­BORG

AN Aus­tralian farm­ing and food or­gan­i­sa­tion be­lieves the en­ter­prise of North East small farm­ers freerang­ing pigs and poul­try will be at risk un­less the Vic­to­rian govern­ment makes rad­i­cal changes to draft animal in­dus­tries plan­ning con­trols.

The Aus­tralian Food Sovereignty Al­liance – which rep­re­sents about 250 small-scale farm­ers – has this week launched a pe­ti­tion to alert the govern­ment to the ef­fect of the draft changes on farm­ers and their com­mu­ni­ties.

Al­liance pres­i­dent Tammi Jonas, who on Sun­day and Mon­day was in the North East where there is a grow­ing num­ber of small-scale pro­duc­ers, told the Times-Ob­server the govern­ment in 2015 had es­tab­lished an Animal In­dus­tries Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee.

It had been set up to de­ter­mine how the state plan­ning pro­vi­sions might, as the govern­ment de­scribed the strat­egy, “bet­ter sup­port the es­tab­lish­ment and ex­pan­sion of pro­duc­tive…animal in­dus­tries… bal­anc­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal out­comes and com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions”.

Plan­ning Min­is­ter Richard Wynne has sub­se­quently re­leased a ‘Plan­ning for sus­tain­able animal in­dus­tries’ dis­cus­sion pa­per about the draft rec­om­men­da­tions which is open for pub­lic com­ment un­til Novem­ber 14.

In con­tention is a pro­posal to in­tro­duce a sys­tem of “grad­u­ated” plan­ning con­trols.

“The draft grad­u­ated con­trols don’t ap­pear to re­duce red tape for small-scale com­mer­cial farm­ers, nor home­stead­ers or hob­by­ists, and yet they make it eas­ier than ever be­fore to set up a 1000-cat­tle feed­lot,” Ms Jonas said.

“The pro­posed new con­trols would mean that farms like mine (at Eganstown near Dayles­ford) with 12 sows and two boars – so about 100 pigs on 10 hectares of our 28-hectare farm at any time – would have to ap­ply for a per­mit just like those with 1000 pigs in a shed.

“…Yet the farmer next door could put up to 1000 cat­tle in a feed­lot right up to our fence line with­out a per­mit or a buf­fer.”

Ms Jonas said the pro­posed grad­u­ated pro­vi­sions would al­low a hob­by­ist poul­try grower to keep up to 200 birds with­out a per­mit but re­quire a 50-me­tre set­back from dwellings on an­other prop­erty.

“The next level, al­legedly de­signed to bet­ter en­able low-risk, small-scale pas­tured live­stock pro­duc­tion in (a shire) farm­ing zone, only al­lows up to 450 birds and re­quires a 100m set­back,” Ms Jonas said.

“For pigs, the ‘stream­lined ap­pli­ca­tion process’ would only ap­ply to farms with up to eight sows and one boar plus ‘only’ their prog­eny, rul­ing out buy­ing in new breed­ing stock to main­tain ge­netic di­ver­sity, a real con­cern for the her­itage breeds move­ment.”

Ms Jonas said the draft scheme failed to ac­count for stock­ing den­sity.

She said it would al­low in­ten­sive shed farms to add 150,000 chick­ens to a range area with­out any of the re­stric­tions placed on a small farmer with 500 chick­ens, and feed­lots of up to 1000 cat­tle in a farm­ing zone with­out a per­mit, while 100 pigs or 450 poul­try in highly mo­bile sys­tems would trig­ger a no­tice and re­view process.

“If we don’t get this right this great num­ber of new farm­ers want­ing to come into farm­ing – when put off at the out­set with ob­scure rules and what will be a $1300, more or less, per­mit fee – will say it’s too hard,” she said.

“We don’t need a per­mit – we’re farm­ing in the farm­ing zone. I keep com­ing back to it.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.