Planning for agriculture is necessary for a number of reasons. One is that land suitable for agriculture is a finite resource that cannot be replaced. New agricultural land cannot be manufactured and, once converted to another use, is extremely difficult if not impossible to rehabilitate to a productive state.
Another reason is that, with a few exceptions, agricultural production can only occur on land suitable for cropping or animal production, where there is adequate water supplies or rainfall and in locations where other (sensitive) land uses are scarce.
Because agriculture is not only production activities, but includes the transport and processing of food, fibre, timber and foliage, planning must also provide access to water infrastructure and transport infrastructure for the efficient movement of commodities from farms to processing facilities and markets.
To feed a growing world and to meet the Queensland government’s aim of doubling the value of food production by 2040, planning for the growth of agriculture is essential.
Local government planners, State regional planners, farmers or policy makers, should consider the following nine principles to achieve a healthy agricultural sector at the regional and local level.
- Agriculture in the economy
- The natural resource base
- Lot sizes for productive agriculture
- Land use conflict
- Sustainable natural resource management
- Diversified agricultural enterprises
- Infrastructure for agriculture and supply chains
- Support services for agriculture
- Multiple values of agricultural land
- Download Guiding Principles
QFF has produced a planning toolkit and other publications to assist farmers, planners and policy makers to implement these principles for a healthy agricultural sector.
Information for Local Government
QFF is preparing a series of short videos for stakeholders with an interest in rural planning, and in particular new councillors elected at the April 2012 Local Government election.
An informative video on rural planning to inform new councillors at the 2012 Local Government election.
A farmers’ perspective on issues that impact rural planning in Queensland.
Planning expert Mick Capelin gives a run down on some of the important considerations when it comes to local government planning for rural industries.
Legislation affecting primary producers
Farmers and land managers are often confused by the wide range of regulations and legislation that affect their operations or development proposals. QFF has produced two guides to the legislation and how these affect graziers and other primary producers.
What is Agriculture
Agriculture is the production of food, fibre, timber and foliage. A more holistic description would include the use of natural resources to produce food, industrial raw materials and energy sources. However agriculture is more than merely production – it includes the inputs into production, the social and environmental setting of farms and people, and the downstream transport and processing of commodities to prepare them for consumption as food, clothing, building materials and energy.
Traditional agricultural practices have included cropping, the management of pasture for livestock, and market gardening. These practices are evolving to embrace new technologies, operational innovation, different crops and new purposes such as energy and carbon sequestration.
The following definition of agriculture has been adopted in this document:
Agriculture – Any activity connected with the growing of food, fibre, timber and foliage including, but not limited to, cropping*, intensive horticulture*, animal husbandry*, intensive animal industry*, animal keeping*, aquaculture*, permanent plantation* wholesale nursery*, production nursery, roadside stall*, winery* and rural industry*; and also including ancillary activities concerned with accommodation of farm workers, visitors and tourists; the storage of water; irrigation and drainage works; the storage of equipment for the production and transport of agricultural products; and the on-farm processing, packaging, storage and sale of agricultural products.
The uses marked with an asterisk in this definition are drawn from definitions in the Queensland Planning Provisions.
Case studies have been conducted to illustrate the issues encountered by the agricultural sector in engaging with planning processes. These case studies have been chosen to represent the broad range of industry sectors, regions and planning processes that intersect to influence land use and environmental outcomes.
Best practice examples
Each of the principles in the toolkit can be illustrated by best practice examples of good planning in Queensland.
Regional Land Use
Data collected in the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009-10 Agricultural Resource Management survey showed that approximately 52 per cent of Australia’s total land area was managed by agricultural businesses. Queensland had the largest land area managed by agriculture business, approximately 75 percent of the state.
A regional breakdown of agricultural businesses and land use is presented below based on data from Australian Bureau of Statistics, Land Management and Farming in Australia, 2009-10, cat. no. 4627.0.
The full document, prepared for the Local Government Association of Queensland, can be viewed here.
Rural Planning Project
QFF is undertaking a project to improve the capacity of rural industries to engage in state, regional and local planning processes. Project details are here.