Archive:  Intensive Animal Industries

Last Updated  23/7/18



RED ALERT  Andrews Government Is "Getting Things Done" By Removing Prohibitions On Intensive Pig And Poultry Farming In Rural Conservation And Rural Living Zones, And Drinking Water Catchments, Across Victoria.   Lost In Transit: "Making Things Fair" And "Delivering For All Victorians" 

(23/7/18 - P)  Single-minded focus on economics allows thousands of pigs and poultry to be kept, and if you're next door in any rural or green wedge or urban growth zone, your rights to know about it, object and go to VCAT are being extinguished.  Affects all rural and regional areas of Victoria, and Green Wedge and Urban Growth zones in metropolitan Melbourne. Pig and poultry business interests, and State government, are very happy.  The rest, and the environment, can fade away.  Intensive Animal Industries File


On 29 June, the Andrews government adopted changes (to be introduced to all Victorian planning schemes in September) which give priority to intensive animal production industries over environment and amenity. On the way through, democracy dies too as these changes remove neighbours' third party rights - to receive notice, to object and to go to VCAT - as a means of reducing the regulatory burden on applicants for pig and poultry farms: "If certain conditions are met, low-risk farms should be allowed to establish in appropriate rural zones without being subject to the extra cost and time associated with third party notice and review."  (1)


Do the Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge or Urban Growth zones constitute appropriate rural zones?  Are some of them rural zones at all?  Can pig and poultry farms ever be low risk, particularly in the sensitive or quasi-residential areas these zones are applied to?  The State government thinks so.  It is removing current long-standing prohibitions on intensive animal production, beginning with pigs and poultry, across the board in these zones "because there will be some small or low-density farms that will be suited to the land in these zones" (2), and it's reducing controls in others.  A new "simplified" permit application process is introduced, as are new pig and poultry farm permit guidelines that adopt the 'flexible' principles of ResCode: an objective to be met, standards that can be varied, wide-ranging discretion and interpretation.


Here's a snap-shot of adopted planning scheme zone changes:

NEW  100 chickens and 10 emus/ostriches 

To be allowed in: Farming, Rural Activity, Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge, Green Wedge A, Urban Growth zones (currently prohibited in these zones)

No permit required, no setback, land size or stocking rate requirements, no say for neighbours.  

If environmental or amenity issues arise, the literature says "you are encouraged to have a friendly conversation with your neighbour to discuss your concerns and see if impacts can be managed", (3) as your first option.

NEW  Chickens: Up to 10,000 (including broiler farms)

To be allowed in: Farming, Rural Activity, Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge, Green Wedge A, Urban Growth zones (currently prohibited in these zones)

A planning permit, using the new "simplified" permit application process, is required.  Last October, the simplified permit process was restricted to applications for up to 450 chickens, but now applies for up to10,000 chickens (including young birds raised in sheds until old enough to range).

As these numbers are considered "low density", and "low risk" if well-managed, residents' third party rights to notice / object / go to VCAT are removed:

No land sizes are specified.

'Well managed' means 50% ground cover should be maintained at all times, mobile housing and feeding infrastructure should be moved every two weeks and production paddocks rested for three months, stocking rates should peak at 1,500 chickens/ha (not including young birds being raised in sheds), and production areas shouldn't be located below a 100 year flood level, in a Special (Drinking) Water Supply Catchment or within 30m of a declared waterway.  These management practices can be varied. 

More chickens can be applied for with a normal permit application process (other than broiler farms of more than 10,000 chickens in the Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge A and Urban Growth zones).

NEW  Pigs: 150 sows (includes progeny) OR 1,000 Standard Pig Units (SPU)   Standard Pig Units

To be allowed in: Farming, Rural Activity, Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge, Green Wedge A, Urban Growth zones (currently prohibited in these zones)

A planning permit, using the new "simplified" permit application process, is required.  Last October, the simplified permit process was restricted to applications for up to 8 sows, 1 boar and their progeny but now applies for potentially thousands of pigs.

As these numbers are considered "low density", and "low risk" (low environmental risk and amenity impacts) if well-managed, residents' third-party rights to notice / object / go to VCAT are removed if the 150 sows and their progeny or 1,000 Standard Pig Units are kept 100m from a neighbour's house, or 400m from a residential zone.   No land sizes are specified.   

'Well-managed' pig production is contingent upon management practices, one of which is a rotational land use system where "following each pig phase, a cropping/forage/pasture phase allows removal of nutrients (through plant harvest) that accumulate on paddocks from pig manure and feed waste." (4) 

In addition, 50% ground cover should be maintained at all times, mobile housing and feeding infrastructure should be moved every three months, stocking rates should peak at 12.5 SPU/ha (approx. 5 - 125 pigs), native trees and native vegetation should have fence or other barrier protection from pigs, and production areas shouldn't be located below a 100 year flood level, in a Special Water Supply Catchment or within 30m of a declared waterway.  These management practices can be varied.  More pigs can be applied for in all of the above zones with a normal permit process.

NEW  Poultry Hatcheries

To be allowed in: Farming, Rural Activity, Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge, Green Wedge A, Urban Growth zones (currently prohibited in these zones)

 Permit required.  No restrictions, no requirements to be met.

If the changed zone controls and simplified planning process don't provide sufficient scope for increased intensive animal production, major changes to land use definitions do.  For example:

A new Animal Production definition (described as including "farm animals kept or bred for production purposes, for example, chickens, beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits, camels, buffaloes, goats") (5).  Animal Production is introduced as a new 'permit required' land use in all rural, green wedge and urban growth zones. 

Current Intensive Animal Husbandry and Extensive Animal Husbandry (grazing) land use definitions are deleted and replaced with the softer definition of Intensive Animal Production, and an expanded definition of Grazing Animal Production, blurring the demarcation between intensive, and grazing, animal production activities, in favour of more intensive (hand-feeding) 'grazing'. 

Grazing Animal Production no longer requires most food to be obtained by grazing, but for grazing to merely be a "key component":  "The amount of food being provided through emergency, seasonal or supplementary feeding will vary depending on the circumstance, and can be substantial."  (6) 

Pig and poultry farms (pig farms, poultry farms, broiler farms, poultry hatcheries) are no longer included in an "intensive" land use definition. They are made separate land uses in their own right, and no longer prohibited in Rural Conservation, Rural Living, Green Wedge A and Urban Growth Zones.    

The adopted changes originate from recommendations in the Regional Economic Development and Services Review 2015, chaired by the Hon. John Brumby (former Premier of Victoria), which were then run through some committee processes (apparently not all committee members supported the proposed changes), before exhibition of draft planning scheme changes last October.  Subsequently, the government substantially increased the number of animals to which a simplified planning permit application process (and removal of third party rights) applied, and added prohibitions on pig and poultry farms in the Industrial and Urban Floodway zones, while removing prohibitions in the Urban Growth Zone*.

*The zone applied to land earmarked for future development, usually in Melbourne's metropolitan urban growth areas but lately also able to be applied in rural and regional areas (Macedon Ranges Shire has a recently-introduced UGZ at Riddells Creek). 


The State government says of its adopted changes:

"Planning reforms have been refined further according to the following principles:

Economics-driven changes for intensive animal production are far from finished.  In response to the question, "Are these reforms the final step in the Planning for Sustainable Animal Industries Program?", (8) the State government response is "No... they represent the beginning not the end of the work.  Work on all 12 actions... [is] underway and there are more milestones to be delivered in the near future...". (8)   Current changes represent only 4 of the 12 actions.


Not all revised planning scheme provisions that enable the changes, or supporting documents, have been made available at this stage.  The current Code of Practice for Piggeries is being abandoned (temporarily replaced with a Practice Note), the Victorian Code for Broiler Farms is being amended to apply to conventional and free-range broiler farms with more than 10,000 birds, and a new Code of Practice for a broad spectrum of intensive animal production industries (additional to pigs and poultry) is being prepared to support further 'reform' and 'simplification' of Victoria's planning system.  


Public information sessions will be held at Bendigo 24/7/18, Daylesford 25/7/18, Benalla 26/7/18, Ballarat 27/7/18, Torquay 1/8/18  and Tatura 6/8/18 (all 10am-2pm);  Warrnambool 31/718, Horsham 2/8/18 and Wycheproof 3/8/18 (all 11am-3pm); and Alexandra (to be confirmed).


Currently available documentation, and access to information session details and registration, can be obtained from


MRRA Says:


The State government says of the final changes it has adopted, "The planning reforms have been developed and refined according to the Government's policy objective to support economic development while balancing environmental outcomes and community expectations"(9)  


As if suspended in 'pave paradise and put up a parking lot' philosophy, the government euphemistically labels its ground-breaking race towards universal intensive animal production as "sustainable" animal industries.  But the bigger picture is missing.  The trade-off for new opportunities and advances in terms of more ethical production practices and market expansion is that these changes disregard and thoughtlessly discard the broader principles of sustainability, and democracy, and well-being, and strategic land use planning.  


One thing is clear: these changes have nothing to do with small-scale or backyard self-sustainability.  This is business: industrial-strength intensive animal production, export markets, an eye on expansion, and a green light to do it anywhere.  The government is only too aware that this particular boat isn't going to float without wholesale disenfranchisement, thus the vaporisation of your rights to even know about these activities.


The changes take the fork in the road that leads to experimental risk-taking, a place where self-regulation weds ResCode-flavoured 'flexibility', and the winners take it all.  The risks involved aren't a secret, for example, "Poor nutrient management can lead to soil structure decline, nutrient overload, poor crop/pasture performance, leaf burn, compaction layers, erosion from bare patches, excessive weed growth, leaching and run-off into waterways."  (10)  These and other risks have been recognised as unacceptable, and prohibited, for years in zones where they are now to occur, rolling the dice with urban and rural amenity, the integrity of drinking water catchments, and the most environmentally sensitive areas in Victoria.  And it won't just be responsible people who take it up, these changes allow any Tom, Dick or Harry to have a go as well.


The government issued a media release about the changes, entitled "Protecting the Right To Farm In Victoria".  It contains quotes from the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne, the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford and, most disappointingly, from Mary-Anne Thomas, current MLA for Macedon (which seat includes Macedon Ranges Shire).  Mary-Anne says: "This is about  getting the balance right between advancing our agricultural sector and safeguarding the environment for decades to come."  


These changes aren't about protecting the right to farm but creating new rights for intensive animal production in zones and places where they don't currently exist, because that's where some people want them.  More rights, in the wrong places, not because there is a lack of existing opportunities - most of Victoria is already zoned Farming - but because it's more convenient for some.


The changes aren't and don't "balance"; they only go one way. 


Safeguarding the environment?   Only if intensive animal husbandry in places like Mount Macedon, Hanging Rock and drinking water catchments, and completely compromising the Rural Conservation Zone - Victoria's ONLY conservation zone for private land - can be considered "safeguarding" the environment.


While each new septic tank is counted in terms of the contamination it adds to a drinking water catchment and public water supplies, apparently effluent from thousands of pigs and poultry isn't an issue. Despite the red flag of mid-winter algal blooms presently at Cairn Curran and Lake Eppalock water supply reservoirs, the dangers of failing to prohibit intensive pig and poultry farming in drinking water catchments haven't penetrated, and, like amenity and the natural environment, these non-renewable catchments are to be sacrificed on the altar of economics.  


Here in Macedon Ranges, mixed messages, inconsistencies and contradictions have attained gold medal status.   Hey, it's getting crowded in here.  Is Macedon Ranges a repository for Melbourne's overflow population, an industrial opportunity, boom time for places with room for a pony, intensive animal production real estate, or a sensitive environment important to the state of Victoria?


In 2014, the State government said it would protect Macedon Ranges, based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, for good.  Credit goes to the State government for introducing legislation to protect Macedon Ranges Shire;  the Distinctive Areas and Landscape Act has now been approved, with Macedon Ranges Shire poised to be the first area in Victoria to become a declared area under that legislation.  But with the government concurrently making changes that in turn make it impossible to protect and prioritise the very values the legislation seeks to protect, does it mean anything anymore?


The local community is still reeling from the shocking draft Localised Planning Statement that 'protected' Macedon Ranges by under-stating values and setting up our towns to become urban growth areas.  It also revoked the government's commitment to Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - the policy that has been in place here for 40 years and says protection of water catchments, tourism and recreation, and nature conservation comes before agriculture - by saying the Statement of Planning Policy had been superseded by the Victoria Planning Provisions, the same provisions now being changed to give blanket intensive animal production industries priority.  Another piece of the LPS puzzle falls into place. 


As repugnant and excessive as they are, current intensive animal industry changes are but symptoms of an epidemic of deregulation, intent upon eliminating perceived barriers to economic and other development, that is poised to consume planning in Victoria, rivalling in scale Jeff Kennett's one-size-fits-all Victoria Planning Provisions in the 1990s.  Changes made last year to "VicSmart" - a permit application process with a 10 day turnaround where Council CEOs are sole decision-makers  - significantly expanded VicSmart's reach and the dollar value of buildings and works which fall within its ambit (up to $1 million value).  Buildings and works associated with intensive animal industries may qualify as VicSmart applications, in which case councillors and third party rights will be excluded, with applications in rural zones also exempted from being measured against any planning scheme requirements.  This pattern of stripping out prohibitions, permit requirements and third party rights, and increased self- and tickbox-assessment, is set to erupt if the government's imminent "Smart Planning" proposals also go ahead.


Even though the short and long-term State-wide environmental and social ramifications are profound, and inter-generational, from recent Facebook chat there seems to be a misconception amongst supporters of the intensive animal production changes that objections flow from misunderstanding, that once supporters have explained the facts, apprehensions will disappear.  MRRA respectfully disagrees (and not just because we are in the "white middle-class bubble of Macedon Ranges", as one supporter put it).  Again, the bigger picture is missing.  Enthusiasm for the changes fails to recognise the heavy disbenefits to society and the environment that result from advantaging some interests over the broader, public interest, and, indeed, fails to grasp the true meaning of sustainability.  There's a place for these activities.  It's called the Farming zone. 


At this stage, the changes are set to become law.  There aren't many actions that can be taken, but before your voice is silenced in September, you could join MRRA in calling upon Minister for Planning the Hon. Richard Wynne, Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Jaala Pulford, and Mary-Anne Thomas MLA for Macedon (or your local State government representative) to:


(1) page 19, Victorian government response to public submissions, Issue 11   

(2) page 13, Victorian government response to public submissions 

(3) page 9, 2018 planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions 

(4) page 5, Pig farm planning permit guidelines

(5) page 6, 2018 Planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions 

(6) page 7, 2018 Planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions 

(7) page 4, 2018 Planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions 

(8) page 6, 2018 Planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions  

(9) page 4, 2018 Planning reforms for animal industries, Frequently Asked Questions  

(10) page 3, "Sustainable Piggery Effluent Utilisation in Australian Farming Systems 2011",  Australian Pork Limited   



State Government Is Removing Existing Prohibitions On Pig, Poultry And Broiler Farms In Rural Conservation, Rural Living and Industrial Zones

(31/10/17 - P)  Worse, these uses won't even need a permit in the Farming Zone, and grazing is replaced with intensive 'supplementary feeding'.  Thinking of moving to regional Victoria?  Don't bother unless you can live with industrial animal production next door... Submissions close November 14   Intensive Animal Industries File  Smart Planning File 


The State government is proposing changes across rural Victoria to make intensive animal industries "sustainable", saying "the proposed planning reforms will better support animal industries across the state" .  These dramatic and far-reaching changes certainly leave no part of the State unscathed.  But rather than "sustainable", these changes just make more intensive and more animal production in more places. 


Existing long-standing prohibitions on intensive animal husbandry are being removed in the Rural Conservation Zone (Victoria's only conservation zone), and the Rural Living Zone (which has a default minimum lot size of 2ha), with prohibitions only to remain for cattle feedlots and intensive dairy farms.  Everything else - pigs, poultry, goats, deer - in fact production of any bird or any mammal (except rodents!) and their resultant animal products, will no longer be prohibited.  Prohibitions are also removed from intensive supplementary feeding operations in these sensitive zones (shades of Wagyu beef?).   And all of this without restrictions on size, number or type of animals, environmental and conservation sensitivity, setbacks - or location in drinking water catchments.


Same thing is happening in Industrial zones, regardless of whether they are next to or inside towns, except they get cattle feedlots as well. /p>


In the Farming Zone, up to 200 chooks and 10 emus, and either 10 pigs or 3 sows, a boar AND their progeny (22 pigs allowing 6 piglets per sow), are OK without a permit if they are 50m away from the house next door, or a residential zone.  Gets worse - your rights to know, object and go to VCAT are taken away for applications for up to 450 chooks, 25 emus/ostriches, and 8 sows, a boar and their progeny (57 pigs) - if they are 100m away from the house next door or a residential zone.  Associated structures are free to blight the landscape because they don't necessarily need a permit either.


Grazing isn't what it used to be - it's proposed to become supplementary feeding with grazing on the side, no permit required in the Farming Zone (any number) if feeding structures are 100m from your house or a residential zone (but can be closer with a permit).  In the Rural Conservation, Rural Living and Industrial Zones, requires a permit (any number) but with no conditions, restrictions, setbacks.


Proposed changes to zones, and land use definitions, are currently on exhibition, along with three new Particular Provisions for Pig Farm, Poultry Farm and Grazing Animal Production.   Submissions close NOVEMBER 14.


Here's a link to make or upload a submission.

Here's a link to the "Sustainable Animal Industries" website.


MRRA Says: 


This is "sustainable"?  What are they thinking...

Pfft!  There goes the neighbourhood, and residential amenity, and the environment, and drinking water catchments, and State level landscape and biodiversity significance - and with more blurring of what zones mean, proper planning:  WRONG WAY, GO BACK!


Seems nowhere is safe from this industrial animal production mania - anyone for a spot of pig, poultry, goat or deer production on Mount Macedon?  Upstream of Lauriston Reservoir?  In the 1ha and 2ha Rural Living Zones recently approved in Amendment C110 around Gisborne?  On Mount Aitken?  In the Industrial 3 zones in Woodend and Romsey?  Out in the forest at Bullengarook?


These changes are blunt instruments that crush environmental credibility.  Why make these changes at all?  No restrictions in forested areas?  No restrictions in open drinking water catchments?  Unbelievable. No restrictions on setbacks or scale either, so pick a number.  And now that so many houses have been approved in Macedon Ranges' rural zones - and particularly the Farming Zone - what an attractive, healthy, safe living environment all this will make - not.  Try rural NSW or South Australia instead.


The Rural Conservation Zone is applied to Victoria's most environmentally valuable and vulnerable areas.  Rural Living Zones are usually where people want to live "the dream".  Think about it... think about it  - maybe that's why all forms of Intensive Animal Husbandry are (and always have been) prohibited in these zones.  Until now.  Hello pig, poultry and broiler farms (up to 400,000 birds), supplementary feeding, and pretty much any other intensive animal use except cattle feedlots and intensive dairy farms.  No restrictions in these zones - do what you like. 


Changes being made to definitions narrow what's "intensive" to just a few things, and then intensify what's left.  The current definition of grazing, 'Extensive Animal Husbandry' is about grazing - where farm animals get most of their food by grazing.  That's gone, replaced with 'Grazing Animal Production' where grazing is secondary to seasonal (6 months of the year), and routine, supplementary feeding.  Intensive.  That's why, unlike grazing, it's proposed to be prohibited in residential and commercial zones. 


This package of changes is pocked-marked with errors that make understanding what's being proposed more difficult.  Hey Houston, we have a problem:  the proposed zones say Pig Farms have to comply with Poultry Farm provisions, and Poultry Farms have to comply with Pig Farm conditions.  Even though current definitions, 'Extensive animal husbandry' and 'Intensive animal husbandry' are being deleted from the planning scheme - woooo - somehow they are still there in the Farming, Green Wedge, Rural Activity and Industrial 1 zones.  And in a 'take the cake' effort, in the Industrial 1 zone, intensive animal uses are both prohibited - and permit required - at the same time.  If anyone can work out what's going on in the Green Wedge Zone - what's in, what's out - give them a prize.  As for the new Particular Provisions for Pig and Poultry Farms, and Grazing Animal Production, only some segments of them are referenced in the zones as conditions to be met (mainly how to get a pig farm or poultry farm without a permit in the Farming Zone).  The new Particular Provision for Grazing Animal Production isn't referenced in the zones at all, so its requirements aren't  conditions to be met in any zone.  To be honest, it's a bit of a lottery trying to work out if, what, where and when any of these new particular provision controls might apply, and there's not much point having them, such as they are, unless they are actually used.


The big question for Macedon Ranges is, of course - how is this protecting Macedon Ranges?  Add this lot of changes to other recent State government changes, like VicSmart where a CEO can approve a house in a rural zone within 10 days, without anyone else knowing about it (including you and councillors) or meeting any planning scheme policy requirements, and lifting dwelling heights to 11 metres and 3 storeys in the General Residential Zone, and now, changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions - well, this isn't what we think of as protecting this place.  How about you?


ACTION REQUIRED:  Please make a short submission by November 14th (use the submissions link above).  Here's an overview of the changes

The government's thinking is these changes strike 'the right balance'.  Tell them they don't.  These changes don't respect, let alone protect, Macedon Ranges' environment, landscape and water catchments, residential amenity, or high quality agricultural soils, and they don't respect residents either because they are extinguishing residents' rights.  Tell the State government this is not protecting Macedon Ranges, and it's not on.  Make sure you let Macedon Ranges' councillors, Mary-Anne Thomas (MP for Macedon) and Richard Wynne (Minister for Planning) know your views.   .