Agriculture

Our Shire’s fertile basalt soils, reliably high rainfall and subtropical climate supports a rich and diverse farming community that produces everything from macadamias, avocados, bananas, coffee, pork, vegetables, bush foods, diary, flowers and much more.  Byron’s entrepreneurial spirit has seen many of our farmers and local businesses 'value-add' to the raw produce by turning it into a variety of food products such as cheeses, spirits, oils, cured meats, small goods, muesli, sauces, jams, relishes and artisan breads.

Agriculture and value-adding agribusinesses are vital to Byron Shire and the region.  Local's and visitors alike relish the ‘clean and green’ produce for sale on the side of our roads, at our farmers markets and our restaurants. 

Our community feels strongly about protecting our farms and their produce.  With continued pressure from urbanisation and climate change, Byron Shire needs to ensure that we have sustainable farms, farmers and their produce in years to come.

Farming is essential to our way of life, food security and part of the fabric of the Byron Shire. In order for Council to support and sustain farming into the future, a forum, workshop and survey was conducted earlier this year with local farmers to better understand their challenges and future directions in the agriculture sector.

A number of initiatives were identified from this research including:

  • Employ a full-time Farm Liaison Officer to support our farming community. 
  • Improve communications and the narrative around farming to show that it is valued and a vital industry in Byron Shire.
  • Develop a farming in Byron Shire website to house all the latest information to assist farmers. 
  • Protect farming land and work together to re-activate farmland that is lost to lifestylers and hobby farmers.
  • Establish an Farming Industry Cluster that is representative of all farmers.
  • Continue to improve land use and environmental mapping plus planning procedures to assist farmers negotiate regulation.
  • Train planning staff on agricultural specific information.
  • Work with other Councils to develop case studies to demonstrate to the NSW Planning Department and DPI how the current regulations constrain smaller Northern Rivers farmers from being innovative and successful.

 

To preserve the distinctive character, values and the economic capacity of our Shire’s rural areas for future generations, Council prepared a Rural Land Use Strategy

The Strategy provides a strategic framework centred on the management and use of rural land for living, working and leisure. 

 

The Farming Industry Cluster Meetings will be formed in August 2018

Council is developing planning controls to more actively manage function centres that hold weddings and events in our rural environment.

As part of Councils commitment to valuing, protecting and enhancing farming in the Shire, Council has resolved to not permit function centres in the RU1 Primary Production Zone.

rural weddings and events planning controls

Agricultural production is a very important contributor to our economy and is a key industry in the Byron Shire region.

In 2015/16, the total value of agricultural output in Byron Shire was $33m. The largest commodity produced was Nuts, which accounted for 35.6% of Byron Shire’s total agricultural output in value terms. See more agricultural industry statistics here.