Planning for agriculture is necessary to ensure the best agricultural land remains available for food and fibre production. Land suitable for agriculture is a finite resource that cannot be created or replaced. Once converted to another use, is extremely difficult if not impossible to rehabilitate agricultural land to a productive state.
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 contribute to solutions in the Queensland government’s Food and Fibre Policy, planning for the growth of agriculture is essential.
QFF has produced a range of documents that are designed to assist planners, landholders and the community who are engaged in planning to advance agriculture in Queensland.
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 by QFF:
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.
Planning principles for agriculture
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
QFF has produced a series of publications on planning for agriculture to assist farmers, planners and policy makers to implement these principles for a healthy agricultural sector.
Planning for agriculture toolkit
Guide to Planning for agriculture
Case studies in agricultural planning
Case studies have been conducted to illustrate the issues encountered by the agricultural sector in engaging with planning processes. Seven 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.
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 a guide to the environmental management and planning legislation and how these affect primary producers.
Planning for Intensive horticulture and production nurseries
Intensive horticulture businesses and production nurseries are often established in peri-urban areas where conflict with residential uses can occur over management practices that may generate noise, dust, spray drift or loss of visual amenity due to large or extensive shadehouses. This planning guideline suggests some solutions to some of these problems through careful location and operating conditions.
Resource activities on agricultural land
The conflict between mining and coal seam gas activities on agricultural land has intensified in recent years. The Regional Planning Interests Act was passed in 2014 and provides a framework for farmers and resource companies to negotiate where and how these uses can coexist.
From the experts
QFF has prepared a series of short videos for stakeholders with an interest in rural planning.
Planning consultant, Lou Scarpato, provides an informative video on rural planning to inform Local Government councilors and staff.
A farmers’ perspective on issues that impact rural planning in Queensland from poultry producer, Gary Sansom.
Rural planning expert, Mick Capelin, gives a run down on some of the important considerations when it comes to local government planning for rural industries.
Regional Land Use Information
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 available 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.
The most detailed information on agricultural land use and land use potential was produced by the Queensland Agricultural Land Audit in 2014. This project, completed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, used data from the Queensland Land Use Monitoring Program (QLUMP) and available land resource mapping to document, for each region, the current and potential land suitable for a range of agricultural production systems.
The State of Queensland Agriculture report, released in June 2014 by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, is a comprehensive statement of the trends in agriculture production and an analysis of the economic, resource, infrastructure and social factors influencing the future growth of agriculture.
For more information contact Mick Capelin on 0434 606 763 or 3837 4747.