WAYS of protecting agricultural land were heatedly discussed at the Heart Foundation and Food Alliance planning for food forum.
Last week, a panel of experts discussed changes to planning legislation that would allow prime green wedge land around Melbourne to be sucked up by housing development and sub-division.
Submissions on zoning reforms that would make significant changes to farming and rural zoning closed in September.
Casey Council representative David Wilkinson said the loss of prime agricultural land in the shire would be devastating.
"We are very good at food production in this area and we need to maximise the use of this rich agricultural land, not give it away,'' Mr Wilkinson said.
"Agriculture has added as much to the Australian economy as mining and should be treated that way.''
Minister guy said the rezoning was done to give farmers the ability to expand their farms as-of-right.
"This will cut red tape, grow our agricultural sector and drive economic growth and productivity," Minister Guy said.
"Our proposed planning zone reforms are designed to give country Councils much greater control over their planning systems, putting country planning back in the hands of country people.
"Offering the opportunity for a rural lifestyle by allowing councils to apply the Low Density Residential Zone will attract more families to rural areas and create strong and vibrant rural communities.
"Much of the criticism of our proposed reforms are from city based planning academics whose first concern is political ideology, not the future of country Victorians."
South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure managing director Jason Ting said agriculture accounted for 36 per cent of South Australia's merchandise exports.
"It is a significant economic contributor, providing $15.5 billion in total revenue per year,'' Mr Ting said.
"It also accounts for 145,000 jobs, which is 18 per cent of the employed workforce."This is why we need to work hard to protect it."