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Farmers welcome right-to-farm changes

By Country News

Farmers impacted by changes to the Victorian planning scheme have said the new laws are a good thing.

The Victorian Government announced the sweeping reforms on June 27, which included a $450000 training and education initiative targeted at pig and poultry producers.

It also is set to introduce new land use definitions and associated planning controls for animal industries into the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes in Victoria.

Stanhope pig producer John Bourke said the changes were overdue.

‘‘Small producers want to play in the same market but don’t want to play by the same rules,’’ Mr Bourke said.

‘‘We have to get a consultant in to prove we can do what we say we do, what’s the difference? Their environmental footprint is bigger than ours.’’

David Gibb, who farms at Red Hill (south-east of Melbourne), said problems came when small farmers didn’t know when permits were needed, something these changes will make clearer.

‘‘The difficulty comes when small producers don’t know they are needing one (permit) or not aware of needing one,’’ Mr Gibb said.

‘‘It’s also difficult for communities and shires to track the growing industry.

‘‘All piggeries need one (now). Poultry farms with under 100 birds don’t need one. For farms with 100 to 5000 birds, a streamlined process is being introduced which shouldn’t be onerous.

‘‘Australian beef export prices are double the prices of beef exports from India, for example, because of our clean and green image and foot and mouth disease free status.

‘‘If we are going to keep it clean and green, we need to make sure all operations are clean and green,’’ he said.