Rural Lands and Agriculture Policy

Aspiration:

To keep our existing farmland for food production and ensure farming is acknowledged and encouraged as an important and viable vocation and that it remains as an important part of the local economy.

To see the role and opportunities for Kiama’s agricultural land develop beyond the limited discussion based on a “cows or houses” approach.

To see Kiama’s farms contribute to local food security in a sustainable way that demonstrates that “care for the environment, agriculture and economy don’t need to be mutually exclusive” ¹

Kiama Greens recognise that:

  • The importance of Kiama’s productive agricultural land as a national resource and that our municipality has some of the highest quality soils in Australia together with a highly suitable climate for food production;
  • the loss of agricultural lands nation-wide to urban expansion, drought, climate change, and inappropriate agri-business;
  • an efficient and ecologically sustainable agricultural sector is a major component of revitalising regional NSW and ensuring the security of a clean food supply;
  • drought, climate change and fuel costs, have and will continue to have a dramatic effect on large tracts of farm land, that much of NSW lies fallow and that many farmers have lost their land to the banks;
  • there are constraints on rapid conversion from traditional to new agricultural activities;
  • changing the view of what “agriculture” means in the Kiama context is a long term process;
  • erosion, salinity, acidification, nutrient loss, chemical pollution, soil structural decline, weed infestation, the clearing of native vegetation and loss of biodiversity present major agricultural challenges that will demand a more sensitive and sustainable use of agricultural land;
  • land speculation for urban development makes it extremely difficult to consolidate smaller holdings into larger viable land units suitable for current farming practice;
  • fragmentation through excision and subdivision of agricultural land is contrary to the long-term strategic interest in preserving valuable rural land for agricultural purposes; and
  • there are opportunities for land owners to lease farmland to people who need smaller lots for food production but who are unable to purchase land at current prices.
  • there is a connection between a active agricultural economy and tourism.

Kiama Greens will work to:

  • Preserve the long-term economic and ecological sustainability of our precious remaining agricultural land.
  • Challenge the “cows or houses” view of land use in Kiama LGA by initiating a broad discussion about alternative options for food production on the high quality soils of the region.
  • Support the protection of local agricultural lands through appropriate zonings and land use policies. In particular this means that Kiama Greens will resist:
    (a) extension of the southern boundary of Gerringong urban area into the farmland which separates Gerringong from Gerroa,
    (b) non-farming industrialisation of agricultural land and
    (c) any loss of the quality farm land outside the current boundary of Jamberoo village.
  • Preserve existing greenbelts and riparian corridors and promote those in areas where they are lacking. Maintain the minimum lot size of 40ha in rural zones to prevent further fragmentation of farmland.
  • Oppose the excision of agricultural land for family homes and businesses that reduce the agricultural potential of the land.
  • Maintain and encourage forms of rural industry that are commercially sustainable and environmentally sympathetic and meet agricultural land preservation principles in that:
    • they are small-scale;
    • they have a low environmental impact;
    • any building envelopes do not result in significant loss of otherwise productive agricultural land;
    • and their construction and access ways do not impact adversely on the agricultural use of the land.
  • Encourage diversification of agriculture, in part by promoting progressive uses of land such as community supported agriculture, regenerative agriculture, organic/permaculture farming and assisting the development of local value-added, branded and manufactured products.
  • Investigate incentives for farmers to diversify and move to ecologically and economically sustainable farming methods such as programs to restore degraded ecosystems and habitat, and the establishment of community banks to provide low-interest loans to small farmers.
  • Support Landcare groups to tackle issues such as weed and feral animal control, riparian management, and revegetation of eroded and denuded lands.
  • Promote and facilitate the option of leasing small parcels of land for new enterprises to ensure they aren’t faced with the up-front costs of high land prices.
  • Support processes whereby the speculative investment in rural lands for non-agricultural purposes is discouraged through long-term and secure classification as ‘agriculture only’.
  • Pressure the State Government to provide long-term security for agricultural lands.
  • Pressure the State Government to complete the Strategic Agricultural Lands (SAL) mapping project as a way to protecting important farmland from residential and industrial rezoning.
  • Investigate processes which provide flexibility in the use of agriculturally zoned land to provide income streams during periods of transition between different agricultural activities.
  • Provide continuing support for local food and produce markets in the municipality to help promote the value of local agriculture and its contribution to a ‘sustainable’ community.
  • Restrict rural residential subdivision that might have an adverse impact on farming activities and drive up agricultural land prices.

¹ Quote from “Farming Democracy – Radically Transforming the Food System from the Ground Up” Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance.