CITRUS Australia's Riverina committee is calling on the state government to classify their local industry as a "critical industry cluster" in relation to mining and gas development.
Recent applications for petroleum exploration leases in the area have concerned many local farmers, including citrus growers.
Citrus Australia Riverina Regional Advisory Committee chair Ken McDougall said that citrus growers were not opposed to mining and gas exploration.
However, he said many felt protection of prime agricultural land was essential and the committee will request critical industry cluster status on this basis.
"Citrus growers in the Riverina believe that our farming infrastructure, specialised services and importance to the regional economy mean that we should be classified as a critical industry cluster and enjoy the same protections as the equine and viticulture industries of the Hunter Valley," Mr McDougall said.
"We are concerned about the impact on gas development on aquifers and water course, and also the potential for a substantial land use impact that could interfere with our farming methods.
"The rice growers have expressed similar concerns about the development of coal seam gas in the region and parliamentarians such as Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, Nationals MP for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli, and Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham have all called for agriculture in the Riverina to be protected from the development of coal seam gas."