The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) welcomes the opportunity to submit in response to the Bellarine Peninsula Distinctive Area and Landscape draft Statement of Planning Policy.
The farming community routinely expresses concern that agricultural issues are not being properly considered by the Victorian planning system.
The VFF represents a number of farmers on the Bellarine Peninsula. These farmers are members of the active Bellarine Branch of the VFF.
Around 50 percent of VFF members on the Bellarine run commercial scale livestock, grains or mixed farming enterprises while the other 50 percent are associate members of the VFF, running smaller farming operations. This ratio is consistent with other peri-urban and coastal regions.
For over 4 years VFF has had a well-developed policy position on the changes required to the planning system to support the retention and growth of agriculture in Victoria.
Repeated failures to address or consider these matters, in response to consultation or in preparation of documents such as this, reinforce industry belief that there is an urban bias in the planning system that sees farming land as vacant or awaiting an urban use or providing amenity and ecosystem services for towns.
The VFF accepts that farming operates in a regulated space but that there is a need to ensure planning and environmental regulations, which are generally designed for urban scenarios, to not have a perverse or adverse outcome in relation to facilitating the ongoing and productive use of land for production of food and fiber.
The VFF is concerned that the draft Statement of Planning Policy for the Bellarine Peninsula will have
unintended negative consequences on agriculture in the area.
The draft Statement of Planning Policy mentions that agriculture needs to continue to be the main use in rural areas, which the VFF agrees with the principle but is looking for detail to ensure this occurs.