It almost sounds like an Irish joke, but in fact it is a very important question. According to our local council 1 pig can make you a pig farmer and 1 chook can make you a poultry farmer.
So does this really matter you ask? Yes it does! There are significant implications if your small farm activity is deemed to be a piggery or a poultry farm. First of all under NSW Environmental & Planning Legislation all piggeries and poultry farms are classified as intensive agriculture. This has nothing to do with your farming practice or philosophy. Whether you are free ranging, organic or see your animals as purely production units a piggery or a poultry farm is classified as intensive agriculture, not extensive agriculture. All intensive agricultural activities require a Development Application. Kaching goes the cash register. Further more if you are also located in a water catchment area, which is the case for about 80% of our Local Government Area (and about 70% of the state) you also require a Designated Development Application - ka-ching ka-ching and an Environmental Impact Statement- even more $$$.
This seems some what unrealistic to say the least. So a further chat with Council to clarify the situation. Accordingly, the gods of our planning department assert that determining an activity as intensive agriculture primarily depends on whether livestock “are fed wholly or substantially on externally-sourced feed.” Well I don't know any person who keeps chooks, pigs or horses in particular who does not purchase feed for these animals. And how much is substantially any way? This seems very subjective. Surely there must be a clearer way of determining how many pigs makes you a pig farmer?
Surprise, Surpirse! Yes there is. There is state wide Legislation (SEPP) No 30—Intensive Agriculture
that provides a clear definition of what makes you a pig farmer:..."200 or more pigs or 20 or more breeding sows,..." I should point out that state legislation overrides local government legislation. Apparently our planning gurus missed this one.
The moral of the riddle. Don't let local government make your small farming enterprise their cash cow.
Lets keep raising happy pigs! Next week I will talk turkey on poultry farming.
Bronwyn Richards has cared for animals and has been growing vegetables successfully all her adult life. She is principle gardener for Wynlen House Farm