Dear Mr Scully,
I am writing to express my support for the member for Kiama Gareth Wards private members bill concerning changes to the current Agritourism Policy.
I am third generation Dairy Farmer from Berry on the NSW South Coast. I have two sons who work with me and an employee. My sons are Ag scientists in their own right with one an Agronomist and the other a veterinarian.
Our primary income is from milk production as daily fresh milk into the Sydney metropolitan market with livestock sales also contributing to our total income. We own 67Ha and lease another 95Ha in the local area.
We are constantly being frustrated by our inability to get on with farming as our core business. We are increasingly aware of the public and urban developments around us but have no desire to play tour guides or be distracted from our core farming business.
I am however aware that such options presented with Agritourism may be attractive to some farms as has been the case in the past. In our case the prospect of the current Agritourism Policy has already contributed to our frustrations!
My questions surround the clarification of prime crop and pastureland. When is agriculture land zoned RU1 and RU2 and including flood zoned land safeguarded for agriculture? On the South Coast we are aware of investor finance being available for agricultural land that would also be the case in much of our Eastern seaboard!
We have experienced inflated land values beyond the scope of viable agricultural values, inflated LGA rural land rates and increasing leasing costs on rural blocks purchased by investors. We have witnessed agricultural blocks zoned RU1/RU2 and flood effected being advertised with development potential that Agritourism provides.
We understand that Agritourism has its place in the right place, in the right time and with the right guidelines.
Our frustration also extends to the contradiction that occurs when an additional dwelling is sought for farm managers/labour or family members working on farm or even rural stay opportunities that are subject to LGA development approvals while the raft of Agritourism options are exempt!
In addition, we believe that Agritourism can compromise our farm biosecurity status with both Lumpy Skin Disease and Foot in Mouth disease already in Indonesia with the capacity to shut down completely our livestock industries domestically and in export.
Public risk on rural roads and on farms is an increasing issue already in agriculture. Instances of public eyes in the lens of mobile phones have attracted unwanted attention on agriculture when taken unlawfully and out of context.
Why is Agritourism outside the guide of LGA approval processes when bona fide agriculture must submit to 40Ha minimum rural subdivisions regardless of address or environmental guidelines and cost for water management for irrigation and stored water or weed and pest controls together with “Right to Farm” issues such as trespass and livestock control.
I thank you for the opportunity to make this submission and voice our frustrations! Agritourism has a place but not at the expense of agriculture or without appropriate guidelines that are common to all.