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Agriculture on the outer fringes of Australia’s major cities is dying a slow death.    ABC Radio, 

By Angela Laviopierre, 

Monday, 15 April  201

(pictured:  Fred Haskins, NSW Farmers Association and supporter of the Market Gardens)

Experts say it’s an inevitable end, unless there are drastic changes to Government policy.

Some in the area describe it as heartbreaking- but for others, the sudden leap in the value of their land offers a pension worth several million dollars.

Fred Haskins has grown vegetables at Kellyville, on Sydney’s north-west fringes for 15 years, but he’ll move on within 12 months, now that the owner has decided to sell the land.

The area was rezoned for development around three years ago, and the change has arrived Fred Haskin’s doorstep, with the land across the road being cleared for development.

He says his farms is one of the last remaining on his street.

“We’ve got one rose nursery left, on hydroponic, which is about to go, two flower growers, then another flower grower up the road and then a Chinese farm and then myself… It’s heart breaking.

At the other end of the spectrum is lettuce farmer Frank Agess, who lives two doors down from Fred Haskins.

He plans to sell his land and retire, and is only waiting for the right offer.

“Well people, they gotta live somewhere and they chose this place to live. Why not? Let them be. That’s the way I see it.

“I’m still a bit young, I’ll move somewhere else. It’s not big deal to me.”

Fred Haskins is an executive with the NSW Farmers Association.

He says the region represents some of the Sydney Basin’s best agricultural land, but the skyrocketing land value has sped up the process.

“The property that I lease was 11 acres and that was purchased in 1980 for $270 000. It’s probably worth about $800 000 an acre now. The going price is about $4.5 million for 5 acres, providing it’s clean.”

For those who can resist the financial temptation to sell up, there are still more barriers to staying on the land.

The executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, Mick Keogh, says once development begins, there’s an inevitable clash between the rural and residential.

“When it comes to moving stock at particular times of the day or spraying or operating machinery, the neighbours complain. When it comes to things like dogs getting loose, you get all sorts of those problems as well.”

He says it’s unlikely that Australia’s urban sprawl will be halted any time soon.

“It has to be a deliberate decision of government because the alternative is what we’re seeing. And we see it in every state, it’s not just in Sydney, is what you might call agriculture’s death by a thousand cuts.”

 

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