Thursday, September 21, 2017

Planning changes curb intensive egg production but may force real farmers to obtain permits

Proposed changes to Victoria's planning laws will mean that permits will not be required for back-yard egg producers with up to 200 chickens and hobby farmers with less than 450 hens. The new planning reforms seem to suggest that genuine egg farmers aiming to make a living will now have to obtain permits for an activity that was regarded by most planning officers as an 'as of right' use on land in a farming zone. The announcement overturns a decision by Ministers for Consumer Affairs to allow intensive stocking densities on free range farms of up to 10,000 hens per hectare. Under the new permit conditions, the limit will be a maximum of 450 hens.Full details about the changes Victoria's Planning for Sustainable Animal Industries can be found on the Freeranger Club's downloads page of the freeranger website.Politicians did the egg industry no favours by caving in to pressure from big businesses and allowing farms with outdoor stocking densities of 10,000 hens per hectare to be classified as 'free range. New Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are being prepared by Animal Health Australia. They could conflict with the decision by Ministers for consumer affairs on densities. This could lead to intervention by the Federal Court. In addition to welfare issues. there are planning problems with the political stocking density decision. In Victoria regulations define Intensive animal husbandry:" as “Land used to keep or breed farm animals, including birds, by importing most food from outside the enclosures. Which means that such properties will be treated as Lot feeding operations and permits are likely to be refused. The proposed changes to planning laws in Victoria go even further and new permits will impose a maximum of 450 hens per property.

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