The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed today’s announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on the first program under the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Agricultural Stewardship Package.
Australia’s leading research and innovation university ANU has been commissioned to deliver an incentive pilot for famers.
The NFF, as part of the Stewardship Package, has been consulting with a large range of stakeholders in Phase 1 of the Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme Trial with the Australian Farm Institute commissioned to deliver Phase 1 of the Trial.
“We have carried out a wide, farmer-focussed, consultative process since January 2020,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“We have heard from hundred of farmers, NRM experts, academics, sustainable finance and trade experts from every state and territory, across nearly all farming and agricultural industries.
“Through 15 online forums and webinars AFI and NFF have identified a number of challenges that farmers must manage in the sustainability and biodiversity aspects of their business.
“The NFF has also had constructive discussions with state farming organisations, rural research and development corporations as well as ongoing Trial oversight by a farmer Stakeholder Reference Committee made up of industry representatives.”
One change facing all Australian businesses is the global trend towards higher environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards.
Australia’s agricultural industry is no exception, and increased attention is now turning to agriculture’s ESG reporting, particularly for biodiversity, sustainability and natural capital.
The NFF is asking all farmers to put their views forward on the design of a system that can work for the industry and facilitate a better uptake of government and private equity funding and incentive systems through the Trial.
The producer survey is available here.
A joint Project Report from AFI to the NFF will be released in mid-July. NFF consultation is indicating that no single system or methodology yet works across the diverse range of Australian farm businesses, bioregions and market demands, and that sustainable/green financing and natural capital systems will have a wide diversity of requirements and criteria.
“Scientific rigor and technical accuracy must underpin all of the various methodologies that allow farmers to access these new capital and income sources,” Mr Mahar said.
“So we welcome the addition of ANU to the Stewardship package as a valuable technical and scientific advice provider.
“AFI has also identified the key requirements of an Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification System that would allow farmers to voluntarily engage in any of the existing stewardship programs and industry systems which are already being used on farms.
“We look forward to working with ANU and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as the two projects progress,” Mr Mahar said.