The changing landscape of agriculture

New right-to-farm laws offer some certainty

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Politicians this week hailed the passage of right-to-farm legislation through parliament.

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With the passage of the Right to Farm bill, farmers will win some clear air for their operations.

There are many challenges ahead, though, before the new laws will bear fruit.

In the middle of the changes is the ability of farmers to avoid nuisance injunctions from new neighbours that may not have a full grasp of how agriculture operates.

These neighbours may have moved to a small block having seen a glossy brochure, and suddenly find there's olfactory or noise challenges at any time of day or night.

That's life and that's agriculture.

A recent study by the University of Newcastle has found unfortunately that the gap in understanding between farmers and treechangers is not narrowing, but growing.

It's an indictment of bad communication on both sides. Information is not getting through to new landholders from the city, some of whom use their blocks as getaways, without knowing they have to manage their land properly.

In some ways agriculture hasn't been able to sell its message in the city.

Even NSW Farmers president James Jackson acknowledges this.

He's hoping "blockies' will get more involved in agricultural associations and local committees, so they are aware of what happens in their region.

It's a big challenge.

The new Right to Farm laws will bolster rural stakeholders, but the real goal should be the ability to work together, for greater understanding. It's a pity laws were needed to protect farmers, but that is what is needed in this changing landscape.

AND ONE OTHER THING

The Land's staff and owners would like to extend their sympathies to those affected by the fires this week.

Australia certainly lived up to its reputation as a land of extremes - the best of people and the worst of Mother Nature.

The sense of community was shown in Kempsey when an army of volunteers helping those who had lost everything to out of control bushfires was captured by a landholder saying "when the going gets tough, the Macleay gets going".

We are still early in the season, who knows what the summer is going to bring given the extended drought conditions.

The only solution will come from Mother Nature herself with significant rainfall, enough to replenish water stocks.

Let it rain.

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