Online consultations have begun this week for the National Farmers Federation’s Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme Trial.
The first forum, held yesterday for Western Australia, included 30 participants from farmers to academic, agricultural and natural resource management organisation’s representatives.
The impacts of COVID-19 are being widely felt across all agricultural activities and farm groups, and the scheme trial consultative process has not been immune,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“Face to face meetings have been cancelled and online forums and webinars are being held instead.”
By 2030, the NFF has a goal for 5 per cent of farmers’ income to be derived from ecosystem services. This target is part of the NFF’s plan for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030.
Mr Mahar said the connection between land management, the environment and farm businesses was well established, but was not yet properly recognised or rewarded.
“As part of NFF’s 2030 Roadmap we see scope to maintain and improve environmental outcomes by establishing a verification mechanism for sustainable agriculture practices including where they support the protection of biodiversity.”
In 2019, the Federal Government announced funding for the development of an Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme, to be progressed by the NFF.
As part of the Agriculture Stewardship Package, the aim of the scheme is to consider ways to reward farmers for managing biodiversity on farm, through verification mechanisms.
The Australian Farm Institute is working with the NFF, looking at a range of domestic systems and tools, and local expertise in their applicability is being discussed. International best-practice management and their potential applicability to Australian agriculture are being reviewed in context of market access and trade considerations.
“Understanding the fit between international trade and market access requirements, domestic market-based incentive programs, producer recording and reporting options and investment community or capital options is complex.
“Only widespread consultation, input and industry leadership will find the right fit,” Mr Mahar said.
“We have already had a huge response to the online consultation and expect more producers to put forward their views as the forums continue.
“We urge farmers to consider joining these discussions,” Mr Mahar said.