WAYS to help governments find a balance between agriculture and development throughout the state has been the focus of a new report compiled by the state's ag commissioner.
For the past year, NSW agriculture commissioner Daryl Quinlivan has been working on the Improving the Prospects for Agriculture and Regional Australia in the NSW Planning System, report, which aims to improve the state's planning systems and prospects of the ag sector.
The report covers a variety of issues including land-use conflict between the agriculture sector and other land users, minimising red tape for agricultural development and identifying specific production areas to promote agricultural investment and growth.
"When I was appointed NSW agriculture commissioner in August last year the first thing the Agriculture Minister (Adam Marshall) asked me to do was to look at the planning system and how it affects the agriculture sector in NSW," Mr Quinlivan said.
"The reason he did that was because there was a growing anxiety amongst producers and councils about the difficulties people were having managing agricultural business and getting new businesses up and running in the planning system.
"Over the next 30 years the NSW population is expected to double and we already have a pretty worrying trajectory when it comes to conflict and housing supply is also going to be a priority for the government as well, so all of the things causing land-use conflict between agriculture and other land-use holders are going to get a lot worse.
"Now is a good time to try and put in place some stronger policies to deal with that, rather than waiting for the problem to get worse."
Among the report's 13 recommendations were adopting a statutory state significant agricultural land use planning policy, which should supported by a map of state significant agricultural land, a review of the government's inland code and the formation of a NSW farm practices panel which would assess and where satisfied endorse industry codes of practice.
"The prospects for agriculture at the moment across the board are brilliant and there is a lot of development interest in agriculture and we've seen a big increase in land values in recent years, despite the drought, and livestock prices are really holding up well," Mr Quinlivan said.
"However, the planning system is mainly designed to meet the needs of the majority of the population, which of course lives in urban areas or the costal zone, so I think there is a variety of ways that the system doesn't suit the reasonable objectives of communities in inland NSW.
"That was one of the recommendations of the report, but it is something the NSW Government has already begun to implement in the form of the Special Activation Precincts, I think it is about looking at that on a broad scale.
"A lot of these recommendations boil down to ensuring that if a development of an agricultural enterprise such as a feedlot or horticulture business looks to expand, how does a council act to ensure those types of things aren't limited in their operations due to a neighbour being too close to the fence or something like that.
"It is certainly a big problem and I think these recommendations could go a long way to helping rectify some of those issues."
NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall praised Mr Quinlivan's efforts in the role, saying: "Daryl has distilled complex planning and land use issues into concrete, evidence-based recommendations to help build capacity and support the growth agenda for agriculture and regional NSW."
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