Don’t worry, you can still plant your tomatoes next spring

Don’t worry, you can still plant your tomatoes next spring

What was claimed

The verdict

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is passing a bill to make growing your own food illegal.

False. The Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill proposes amendments to 11 existing pieces of legislation, none of which will ban Victorians from growing their own food.

By Catherine Smith and Frank Algra-Maschio

A post claiming that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is passing a bill to make growing your own food illegal has gone viral on social media.

The post includes an image of Premier Andrews with devil horns and the words, “No growing food, it’s illegal”. Similar sentiments have been shared by Facebook users here and here.

Podcast host, Joe Rogan, also shared the misinformation on episode #1816 of The Joe Rogan Experience, which has an estimated audience of 11 million people. A video of Rogan and his staff discovering on air that the news was fake has been widely shared on social media.

The Agriculture Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 was first introduced in state parliament on April 5, 2022. 

Described in parliamentary debate as an “omnibus bill”, it is designed to amend 11 different existing acts that deal with a variety of commercial agricultural and food production issues. A significant focus of the amendments is to address the risks posed to Victoria's biosecurity by the spread of pests and disease, caused by the expansion of global trade. 

For example, amendments to the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 “strengthens inspection and enforcement powers of authorised officers to better regulate the risk of introduction or spread of noxious weeds and pest animals in Victoria”. Similarly, amendments to the Plant Biosecurity Act 2010 aim to prevent the entry of plant pests and disease to Victoria, and create a new offence to prohibit the sale of diseased plants.

Some of the amendments focus on preventing or limiting the use of pesticides and other chemicals. For example, amendments to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 propose new powers, subject to restraints, for authorised officers to inspect a property that they reasonably suspect to be contaminated due to the use of an agricultural chemical product.

Other miscellaneous amendments aim to enhance the treatment of animals during large-scale natural disasters, such as bushfires, as well as removing some impediments on the interstate trade of hemp products. 

RMIT FactLab spoke to Agriculture Victoria, who said the proposed changes to the bill are designed to safeguard food security, ensure food safety and access to export markets. Nothing in the legislation refers to home gardens and the bill is not intended to stop Victorians from growing their own food.

“No one will be prevented from growing their own food as part of these changes, which are designed to support the agricultural sector which is worth $17.8 billion to the state's economy each year and supports 67,100 jobs," a spokesperson said.

The Victorian Farmers Federation, an industry group established in 1979 to protect the interests of Victorian farmers, released a statement on May 6 2022 in support of the bill.

“The Agriculture Amendment Bill 2022 is a complex and varied piece of legislation that seeks to amend 11 separate Acts. There are a number of changes that the VFF supports including improvements to biosecurity enforcement.”

The group also addressed conspiracy theories claiming the bill was intended to stop Victorians growing their own food.

“Misinformation about the Bill suggests the authorised officers will be able to undertake searches without a warrant, without landholder consent and without the requirement to present identification. The VFF believes this misrepresents and misinterprets the amendments set out in the Bill.” 

Professor Paul Martin, director of the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law, said abuses of power were unlikely under the legislation. 

“Australia's judicial system and administrative system and our political system put quite strong controls over those abuses of power,” he said.

According to Professor Martin, the suggestion that Victorian’s won’t be able to grow their own food is an incorrect interpretation: “My view is that those conclusions are wrong and they're misguided.”


The verdict

False. The claim that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is passing a bill to stop Victorians from growing their own food is incorrect. Agriculture Victoria says the bill is designed to support the agriculture sector by safeguarding food security and access to export markets. The bill does not stop Victorians from growing their own food.

25 May 2022


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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.