AN Australian farming and food organisation believes the enterprise of North East small farmers free-ranging 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 was last week in the North East where there is a growing number of small-scale producers, told the Ovens and Murray Advertiser 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.”