Murrindindi Shire Council submitted a response to the Victorian Government’s ‘Sustainable Animal Industries Consultation Paper’ last week.
Following the government’s Animal Industries Advisory Committee Report, issued in 2016 with Murrindindi Shire’s consultation paper covering three recommendations in the report.
Murrindindi was keen to ensure planned reforms gave rural farmers and investors greater confidence and certainty in the government’s planning scheme.
Council’s submission sought to ensure the Government put in place adequate protections for rural communities to ensure that environmental and social considerations are taken into account when considering the impacts of farming practices.
Murrindindi Shire Council Mayor, Cr Charlie Bisset said council focused on three main areas in its submission.
“First, we thought it important to comment on the Paper’s proposed changes to definitions for land use and animal production.”
The existing definition of ‘intensive animal production’ is where most food is imported from outside the animal enclosures.
The paper proposes that new definitions, called ‘grazing animal production’ and ‘intensive animal production’ be established.
“Council is concerned about these definitions for a range of reasons. We think the definitions would not provide clarity around these important issues and therefore fail to achieve the goal of creating greater certainty for primary producers. The definitions will also create intensive practices without the requirement for a planning permit, leading to potential amenity and environmental impacts. For these reasons, we recommended that these definitions not be adopted by the Victorian Government.
“Second, the Consultation Paper proposed a graduated approach to implementing planning controls. It proposed the introduction of planning controls for pig and poultry farms, followed by controls for grazing animal industries. We recommended planning controls be applied to all animal industries at the same time. We think this is important as all animal industries have the potential to impact on communities, the environment and other businesses and land-owners,” Bisset said.
“Third, the Paper proposed to provide guidance to farmers and investors making applications under the Planning Scheme. We endorsed this in our submission. The Planning Scheme is complex and we encourage any proposal that supports farmers in making high quality planning permit applications.
“The Victorian Government has undertaken a number of community workshops to raise awareness about the proposed reforms. Council has used a number of mediums to encourage the local community to engage on this issue, including through print media, radio (UGFM) and Facebook. We hope those in the community with strong views about this issue have made submissions in response to the Paper.
“We look forward to seeing the Victorian Government’s response to the submissions it has received,” concluded Cr Bisset.