Fear for small-scale farming

PIGGING-OUT: Pigs enjoy a graze at the Dewsbury Pork Farm. Photo: Dewsbury Pork.
PIGGING-OUT: Pigs enjoy a graze at the Dewsbury Pork Farm. Photo: Dewsbury Pork.

After two years seeking Development Approval for their pig farm, Eli Bailey and Ebony Garner could be facing the prospect of relocation.

Five years ago Mr Bailey bought the property at Quialigo that had belonged to his grandfather. He initially began farming sheep, but the land needed revitalising, so Mr Bailey bought pigs turn over the soil and add minerals.

Over the years, the herd has grown. Now the farm supports five breeds, four or which are rare or heritage.

The pair have met their local council requirements, but as the land falls in the Sydney Water Catchement Authority, the farm requires development approval.

If proposed changes to the NSW Primary Production and Rural Development go through, the pair may have to give up their farm.

“It’s likely that we’d have to close the farm and relocate… as we wouldn’t have enough area on our 160ha property,” Ms Garner said. “It would be unlikely that we could afford the move and would have to look at our worst option which is selling the pigs.”

The proposed legislation aims to help industry and local communities respond to challenges in the agricultural sector.

Of concern to small scale producers is the tightening of requirements for development consent.

If passed as is the legislation’s effects would classify all pig and poultry farms as ‘intensive’ with thresholds below which development consent would not be required. It would also require development consent for any cattle, sheep or goat feedlot, and any pig farm, egg or poultry production facility within 500 metres of a dwelling.

Southern Harvest Association has signaled their concern with the legislation as proposed. The group focuses on growing local food communities in South East NSW and the ACT.

The new development consent requirements have the potential to stymie the growing industry among small scale producers in NSW, says secretary Penny Kothe.

That legislation should not go through as it is, or it will destroy small scale farming.

Penny Kothe

Of key concern is the requirement of a 500 metre setback from domestic property for farmers, whatever the scale of their operation. 

While 500 metres may seem small, the irregular shape of even large rural blocks could cause problems for producers, says Ms Kothe.

“It’s a growing segment and it’s going to stop growth,” Ms Kothe said. “You’re not going to start a new farm, because you’re going to require a DA.”

“That legislation should not go through as it is, or it will destroy small scale farming.”