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produce ready to grow
STRATHALBYN farmer and Food
Producers and Landowners Action
Group SA spokesperson Peter Manuel
(pictured) believes farmers should be
able to farm their land without exces-
sive government or bureaucratic inter-
The beef producer has made public
his views about government depart-
ments "increasingly controlling and
interfering" with farmers across the
State and, particularly, measures to
charge farmers for water from their
"We are competing in a global mar-
ketplace where farmers in other coun-
tries get helped out and subsidised,
but here in Australia we are being sent
to the wall," Mr Manuel said.
"We need to find a balance and
remember that farmers are food pro-
ducers for the State and country. If
they are forced from their land, who
will produce the food? Good farming
land needs to be kept for farming."
Late last year, Mr Manuel, along
with members of FLAG SA and other
likeminded individuals, staged a rally
at Victor Harbor to protest against
Natural Resource Management Board
water allocation plans "that severely
diminish farmers' rights".
"We're also appealing to our city
friends because this is going to affect
all of us," he said.
"This is much more than just a tax
on our dam water, it's about asking for
some transparency; on the one hand
we see $30 billion of our water rights
being sold overseas for a quick buck
and yet here in Australia, where we
are world leaders in water recycling
and conservation, the governments are
seeking to put controls on farmers
everywhere for a green agenda ahead
of a sustainable food production agen-
In September last year, the govern-
ment announced plans to metre dams
in the Adelaide Hills where water
water was being used for commercial
Stand against 'control'
RBAN sprawl and the right-
to-farm are two issues that
rarely go hand in hand, but
balance can be achieved, say two
South Australian Legislative Council
Family First's Robert Brokenshire
introduced the Right to Farm Bill
into Parliament in 2009 and it
passed through the Legislative
Council in November that year. It
was designed to help farmers con-
tinue their agricultural practices,
despite urban encroachment.
"Urban sprawl is stopping farmers
from operating machinery," Mr
"They receive complaints about
harvest spray equipment working at
night, noise issues, dust, potential
for spraydrift and so on. We've got
to protect our agriculture. SA's
future is around value-added agri-
culture and this legislation aims to
protect the right-to-farm.
"The Riverland has seen retirees
moving into the middle of intensive
"On Yorke Peninsula, we've got
the sea change and retirees moving
up there. That's all fantastic but if
that encroaches on and prevents
food and agricultural production,
then we're in big trouble."
Mr Brokenshire said small area
farmers played an important role in
South Australian agriculture, con-
tributing a significant amount in
food and produce to the State and its
"Small area farmers not only add
to our food production, they also
have the money and time that larger
scale farmers sometimes lack, to sig-
nificantly work on improvements
for environmental benefits, such as
extensive tree planting," he said.
"I don't think, however, that there
will be too many more small area
farms created under the current
planning legislation put in place by
former Planning Minister Paul
"It has become increasingly diffi-
cult, to the point of impossible, to
subdivide larger farms and create
allotments for hobby or small area
farmers, particularly compared with
20 to 30 years ago when a farmer
could apply to create a new title."
Mr Brokenshire said small area
farms were able to stimulate local
economies and communities.
"These farmers buy fencing equip-
ment, sprays and feed and keep the
local livestock agents and rural sup-
plies merchants viable," he said.
"They also contribute socially
within their local communities,
which is of huge benefit to local
community groups, schools and
Mr Brokenshire believes that "if
planning is done properly", smaller
farms can become the interface -- or
a buffer zone -- between urban envi-
ronments and largescale agriculture.
"We also need to develop plans to
protect our food bowls from further
subdivision," he said.
Greens MLC Mark Parnell is also
keen to see the preservation of the
State's food bowls.
"A debate often raised by the gov-
ernment in advocating for urban
sprawl is that we are not currently
using the land occupied traditional-
ly by hobby farmers as productively
as possible, so we may as well put
houses there," he said.
"My argument is when that land is
paved over, it is lost to any food pro-
duction completely. There's no
going back. In 20, 30 years, we will
be asking ourselves, where are we
going to grow our food?"
Mr Parnell said the right-to-farm
meant different things to different
people: on one level, it was a no
brainer because all people should
"But on another level, that right
does not mean a right to pollute, as
has often been a euphemism used in
the parliament," he said.
Mr Parnell said the standards set
under Mr Brokenshire's Right to
Farm Bill needed to be closely exam-
ined to ensure the best possible out-
come for all parties.
"I have every sympathy for farm-
ers who are trying to conduct their
business, but as an environmental
lawyer, I once represented a client
who had a gas gun firing at 45 sec-
ond intervals 20 metres away from
their window by a neighbouring
vineyard," he said.
"It's certainly a mixed issue and we
don't want standards set at levels
where farmers are forced out
because of urban sprawl."
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