Time for a little respect over access free-for-all

By Nathan Calman on
16 February 2024

TasFarmers in partnership with the Victorian Farmers Federation launched the Farm Access Code at Blackwood Creek, Tasmania.

For many years, both organisations have heard regular feedback from frustrated members of the farming community that access to their land was not respected by many external groups.

These groups have included, but are not limited to, energy infrastructure (solar, wind, underground cables, and transmission lines), resources (mining), state infrastructure (roads), and water infrastructure (dams and irrigation).

When land is accessed by these groups, farmers have the right to be notified in advance so they can protect their business from risk and so that they can protect visitors from hazards on the farm that may not be visible. Hazards may include biosecurity risks, food safety risks if chemicals with a withholding period have been used or safety risks such as the presence of animals with offspring.

The primary goal is to ensure landholders are heard and respected and that compulsory acquisition is used as a last resort.

In farming their lands, agricultural businesses across Tasmania play a vital role in the supply of essential grocery items to consumers in the state and across the country. To do so they own the risk associated with loss of harvest or reduced productivity. Farmers have the right to protect their businesses from these risks.

The code aims to strengthen and build upon the various other protections that exist in different forms across the jurisdictions. It is hoped that the Farm Access Code may be adopted across other states and recognized federally as the benchmark reference document for anyone wishing to access rural land.

As our population grows there is an increasing need for more roads, pipelines, electricity networks and mining exploration to deliver services and drive economic growth. In addition, ambitious emissions reduction targets are resulting in the rapid and unplanned expansion of renewable energy infrastructure (including transmission lines) across the country.

Much of this expansion is criss-crossing agricultural land which has a direct impact on farmers economically, socially, and environmentally. Since the year 2000, Australia’s available arable land has been reduced by fifteen per cent, with much of it lost to infrastructure development and urban sprawl.

In many cases this land is highly productive, supporting and sustaining regional communities as well as being critical to our nation’s food security. This land is scarce and cannot be replaced.

Acting respectfully to our farmers does not cost anything. TasFarmers will continue to advocate for farmers who are not treated respectfully across our state.