Calls for clarification of strategic cropping land policy

Peak Queensland horticulture organisation Growcom said that State Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Stirling Hinchliffe, should take note of Logan City Council’s decision on market garden regulation this week, which was a clear sign of the increasing pressures on farming at the urban fringe.

Chief Executive Officer Alex Livingstone said that the Logan City Council had endorsed a proposal to amend its Planning Scheme so that applications to develop new open field market gardens on lots greater than 8000 square metres (2 acres) in rural residential areas were no longer exempt from development applications and would be code assessable.

“This was done in response to residents’ concerns about the ‘adverse impacts of agriculture’. Clearly, the council has felt compelled to act despite the fact that claims of these adverse impacts, notably spray drift, have not been able to be substantiated by Logan City Council’s compliance officers,” said Mr Livingstone.

“The new regulation is the thin end of the wedge in the war of attrition against farming in urban fringe areas. It will add another layer of red tape, which will surely dissuade people considering new investment in food production on this land.

“By coincidence, the decision was made in the same week as a growth forum held at Griffith University, which focused on the future enormous population growth expected in the Logan area.”

Mr Livingstone said there was an important place for the production of fresh produce in urban fringe areas where farmers could supply local markets.

“Market gardens generate valuable employment and income for an area like Logan,” he said.

“In March the Queensland Government undertook a Growth Management Summit to explore the opportunities and challenges of a growing community. Clearly, retaining the ability to produce our own food is one of these challenges.

“There is a perception that farming can continue to be ‘pushed further out’ as urban areas grow when the reality is that arable land is in finite supply.

“Yet interestingly, it does not appear as if agricultural land in the Logan region has been identified on the maps of strategic cropping land the government is considering protecting. Does this mean that the die has already been cast for the future of these local food production areas as far as the state government is concerned? That would indeed be short-sighted given the population forecasts for Queensland in the next 20 years” Mr Livingstone said.

For further information contact:
Alex Livingstone, Growcom
Mb: 0408 014 843
Fax: (07) 3620-3880