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Farmers in the fight to keep Australia beautiful

This week is Keep Australia Beautiful Week, but for farmers – this is part of the important role they play every week of the year.

Keep Australia Beautiful Week is an important opportunity to remind Australians that we need to work together to keep our continent beautiful.

Given our farmers look after 48% of our landmass – about 47km2 per farm business – they play an important role in keeping Australia beautiful, and it’s a role they take seriously.

Whether they’re tackling weeds, soil erosion, pest animals or waste – farmers work hard to make sure their little slice of Australia is in top condition.

According to the OECD, managing Australia’s soil and water resources and protecting biodiversity costs around $3.5 billion each year. And for every dollar governments spend in this area, farmers contribute $2.60 from their own pockets. Whether they’re tackling weeds, soil erosion, pest animals or waste – farmers work hard to make sure their little slice of Australia is in top condition.

This year, Keep Australia Beautiful Week coincides with a major environmental milestone for Australia’s farmers. The industry’s DrumMuster program (where farmers volunteer their time to clean and recycle used chemical drums) processed its 30-millionth container.

Since its inception 18 years ago, DrumMuster has grown a network of 814 collection sites, operated by 360 councils and 142 other community-based collection agencies. This partnership between farmers and chemical manufacturers has meant 35,000 tonnes of waste have been removed from the environment and recycled into new products.

Farmers have partnered with chemical manufacturers to recycle 35,000 tonnes worth of waste. (Picture: AgSafe Australia)

Partnerships are a powerful part of keeping Australia’s farmland beautiful. One of the best known partnerships between government and farmers is the Landcare movement. This national movement was born in 1989 out of a partnership between the National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation. Today there are over 5,400 Landcare groups actively caring for the Australian landscape – with much of this effort centred on making our farms more sustainable.

This partnership approach is a tradition continued today. This year, the National Farmers’ Federation brokered a new partnership, this time with Natural Resource Management (NRM) Regions Australia. This collective of 56 NRM bodies will work with the farm sector to leverage investment in sustainable farming initiatives. This is all about laying the groundwork for more collaboration, and even greater impact.

In Keep Australia Beautiful Week, let’s recognise the work our farmers put in every week of the year to keep our continent looking its best!

Fiona Simson is the President of the National Farmers’ Federation.

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