More farms across regional NSW will be able to open their gates to visitors and diversify their businesses under proposed changes to the planning system as part of COVID-19 recovery measures.
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the proposed changes would make it easier for farmers across NSW to start, run and grow an agritourism business, such as farm stays, cafes, restaurants, retreats, roadside stalls and small wedding reception venues.
“These changes reflect our commitment to supporting regional communities to rebuild and recover from the devastating impacts of drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Stokes said.
“We’re simplifying the planning rules to help our farmers adapt to change, create new jobs, and drive their productivity and profit.”
Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope said the proposed changes would build on work by the NSW Small Business Commissioner and Service NSW to help farmers diversify through an Agritourism pilot program, part of the Making Business Easier initiative.
“Over the past two years, 35 primary producers from the Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Wollondilly Shire Council and Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council local government areas took part in the pilot,” Mr Tudehope said.
“Today is an exciting next step for the NSW Government on agritourism to help create significant opportunities for many more primary producers in all corners of the State.”
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government was committed to reform that would grow the visitor economy.
“Agritourism has been hidden under red tape for too long. This initiative will make it easier to do business, create great agricultural experiences and attract more visitors to regional NSW,” Mr Ayres said.
Member for Wollondilly Nathaniel Smith said the proposed changes would be welcome news for his community, giving farmers more options to make income from their land.
“Agritourism is big business – Tasmania has grown agritourism into a sector worth $1.1 billion annually,” Mr Smith said.
“With more than 12 times the land area and 14 times the population, agritourism offers NSW a multi-billion dollar economic opportunity that can keep farmers on the farm and jobs in the regions.”
Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said the changes would attract more visitors to the regions.
“The pandemic has led NSW residents to spend more time exploring their own backyard and these changes will help the regions become more attractive destinations,” Mrs Tuckerman said.
So far 16 of the Agritourism pilot participants have started farm tourism businesses, including Clare Lee who is hosting events and farm stays on Windy Station near Quirindi in north-west NSW.
“These changes could make a huge impact on those wanting to start small in the Agritourism space without having to outlay huge costs on farm infrastructure and resources,” she said.
The proposed changes are open for public feedback from 9 March 2021 until 19 April 2021. To views exhibited materials, visit our Planning amendments for agriculture webpage.
Agritourism video available on NSW Small Business Commissioner website.
Image banner: Family enjoying a campfire during sunset at a Fairview Off Grid camp site in Temora, NSW. Photo by Destination NSW