Farmers battle urban creep with 'right to farm' legislation

March 14, 2018

South Australian citrus growers are calling for changes to planning laws in order to better protect farmers from the impacts of urbanisation.

The ABC reports this comes as the Australian Conservatives announced 'right to farm' legislation as a priority for the upcoming South Australian state election.

'Right to farm' legislation has been a discussion point across Australia, with farmers arguing neighbourhood complaints about agricultural practices, such as harvesting or spraying, were forcing work to be put on hold.

Last year, Victoria announced it was planning to reform legislation around 'right to farm' laws.

Grower and spokesman for Citrus Australia's SA Region Mark Doecke said, as new housing was built on former agricultural land on adjacent properties, farmers needed to change their practices.

"It is an issue across all commodities where we are losing horticultural ground to urbanisation," Mr Doecke said.

"There are houses being built on perfectly good fruit blocks, or that were perfectly good fruit blocks, that could be regenerated and could provide income for the state.

"If you want to buy an old fruit block, whether it's three acres or 20 acres, you can buy it and you can just build a house on it wherever you like." Following concern from growers, the South Australian arm of Citrus Australia has contacted a number of Riverland local councils in a plea to amend planning laws.

Mr Doecke said it was frustrating for growers who received complaints about everyday farming requirements, which could hinder them from continuing.

"Outsiders move into the district expecting a quiet lifestyle and no interruptions, and a spray plant, a grape harvester or a tractor or truck starts up somewhere and they complain," Mr Doecke said.

"The farmer is ordered by council at times to cease the activity.

"The grower actually has to provide buffer zones to protect the house."

Australian Conservatives candidate for the Legislative Council Robert Brokenshire said 'right to farm' legislation had been successful in the United States and he'll continue to push for changes.

"People can make frivolous EPA complaints and really cause an impost for farmers," Mr Brokenshire said.

"In America this is done in nearly every state, and we want this done here.”

"We have been fighting for this, and I think we are getting close."

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