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A billion reasons why natural resource management is important for Australia

In the May budget, the Australian Government committed $1 billion over 5 years to the next tranche of the National Landcare Program, with the money to start flowing from June 2018.

In the coming months we are expecting the Government to trigger formal consultation on the design of the next program (NLP2) – and here at the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) we are keen to ensure that the new program supports continued investment in sustainable agriculture initiatives.

In a recent report on the Review of the National Landcare Program, released recently by the Australian Government – the National Landcare Advisory Committee highlighted that:

thirty years of investment [in NRM] has created a profound legacy. It is the foundation upon which we now farm and manage our natural resources.  It has created lasting and real change in the way we manage our natural resources, and how we generate productive economic and social outcomes from this base

National Landcare Advisory Committee, 2016

Here at NFF, we couldn’t agree more.  Caring for our natural resources base, combined with the significant investment that the agriculture sector makes in research, development and extension through our compulsory levies – means that Australian agriculture is renowned for its innovation and it continues to be a key pillar of our economy.

In the wake of successful free trade agreements with Japan, Korea and China – and looking forward to new agreements with the UK & EU post Brexit, and the Pacific Alliance of Latin America – we know that it is no longer enough for Australian farmers to say that we are clean and green, we need to demonstrate our commitment to this and provide our markets with the evidence to demonstrate that we are walking the talk.

Industry is taking this responsibility seriously and we are well on the way to ensuring that our consumers – regardless of where they are in the world – can know that Australian farmers are responsible producers.  The cotton, dairy, beef and sugar industries all have formalised sustainability frameworks or BMP programs that enable these growers and producers to tell their sustainability story. Other commodities are on the cusp of developing these industry-led initiatives, and others such as the rice industry have a suite of initiatives to support sustainable production.

Australian agriculture is renowned for its innovation and it continues to be a key pillar of our economy.
Jack Knowles, Manager, Natural Resources Policy, National Farmers' Federation

There are already great links between NRM regions and industry activities, and we think there is a huge opportunity to do more.  Recently NFF signed an MoU with NRM Regions Australia – the collective of 56 regional NRM bodies.  In signing, this is what the Chairs of the 2 organisations had to say.

“A key opportunity in the partnership is to strategically connect and leverage the investments agriculture industries make in delivering sustainable farming initiatives with the work and investment of the NRM Regions." (Fiona Simson, NFF President)

"In signing this MoU, NFF and NRM Regions Australia signal the importance of encouraging collaboration – both to leverage the Commonwealth’s investment in sustainable agriculture and to ensure our investments deliver real benefits." (Angus Hume, Chair, NRM Regions Australia)

The opportunity for NLP2 that we see at NFF is to ensure that the program enables us all to build on the legacy of our past investments and to position Australian agriculture well ahead of our international competitors when it comes to telling our sustainability story. 

Jacqueline Knowles is Manager of Natural Resources Policy with the National Farmers' Federation

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