The National Farmers’ Federation has this week launched a survey for farmers to have their say in the design of the Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme Trial.
Rewarding farmers for good environmental practices and stewardship has long been a goal for Australia’s agriculture sector, with representative groups including the NFF looking for ways to remunerate farmers for managing Australia’s landscape.
“Unfortunately the implementation of some environmental regulation has come at the expense of agricultural productivity growth,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“The NFF and our members strongly believe that farmers should be financially rewarded for the biodiversity assets they protect on behalf of all Australians.
“After all, more than 50% of the Australian landscape is under the stewardship of our farmers.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF was currently working with the Department of Agriculture, Water & the Environment on the development and pilot of the Trial which would ultimately establish whether such schemes were likely to be viable in the context of Australia’s agricultural sector.
“The Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme Trial is a potential game changer for the industry in its aim to value, measure and ultimately monetise on-farm biodiversity assets.
“Any viable, voluntary scheme will need farm sector support to be successful,” Mr Mahar said.
“We’re calling on farmers to provide their thoughts and insights to how such a framework might work. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and provides an opportunity to help reshape the interaction between agriculture and environmental regulation into the future.”
Phase 1 of the Trial has almost finished and has been carried out via a detailed desktop study, key stakeholder interviews as well as an online public consultation process in which hundreds of farmers and natural resource management experts took part.
The next stage of the trial involves refining the ideas gathered during these consultations by seeking direct input from producers via this survey with a report expected to be released at the end of July.
“Creating a scheme that works at a commercial and practical level is no small challenge.
“We see the need to maintain and improve environmental outcomes by establishing a verification mechanism for sustainable agriculture practices as crucial to achieving NFF’s $100 billion farm gate output goal.
“As part of NFF’s 2030 Roadmap, the NFF has a goal for 5 per cent of farmers’ income to be derived from ecosystem services by the same year.”
Farmers who are interested in completing the survey, or interested in the Trial in general, can also watch a Webinar discussion on the topic of the Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme here.