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Farmers support recognition of their role in managing the environment

26 March 2019

The National Farmers' Federation says a Government initiative to financially reward farmers for their role in managing the environment was sensible and welcomed planned investment in a 'sustainability certification' for Australian farm products.

"Farmers are the custodians of about half of Australia's landmass," NFF President Fiona Simson said.

"The NFF has long called for farmers to be recognised fiscally for the environmental benefits they deliver, every day on behalf of all Australians.

"Over many years the concept has been supported, in one shape or another, by both Coalition and Labor Governments.

"We therefore support the current Government's decision to establish a $30 million pilot Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program which will see farmers paid for improving biodiversity and for sequesting carbon."

Ms Simson said currently, farmers bore the considerable burden of protecting 'matters of national environmental significance' as determined by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, for example certain native grasses.

"By legislation farmers are compelled to carry out protective works at their own expense. A failure to protect required assets puts farmers at risk of breaching the Act, which is by and large legislation that is poorly designed, communicated and understood."

Ms Simson said the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program would enable farmers to contribute further to positive environmental outcomes and importantly, cash payments would provide the resources farmers needed to invest in drought-proofing measures.

"The result is a win for farmers and the environment."

Rewarding farmers for their management of the natural environment is a key element of the NFF's plan for agriculture to achieve farm gate output of $100 billion by 2030. The NFF 2030 Roadmap has bipartisan support.

"With our members, we are already working with a number of research programs to develop the science to underpin such a program.

"More needs to be done and this funding will be of great assistance," Ms Simson said.

The NFF also welcomed the announcement of $4 million to investigate and develop an industry-led initiative to demonstrate, and as appropriate, certify Australian agriculture's sustainability credentials.

"Australian agricultural produce is renowned across the world as clean, green and safe.

"Australian farmers export 70 per cent of what we produce. We compete in a highly competitive international environment.

"A scheme that certifies and differentiates Australian agriculture from our competitors and which helps to attract a premium for our farmers is welcomed."

Ms Simson said the NFF stood ready to provide leadership on both the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program and a sustainability certification scheme.

"We commend the Government for progressing these important initiatives.

"Farmers' role in protecting and managing the environment is a matter of national importance and warrants committed bi-partisan support.

"We look forward to working with the Parliament on seeing both projects to fruition," Ms Simson said.

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P 0408 448 250
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