The NFF supports Landcare and its ethos of working together to achieve natural resource management goals. Government investment in Landcare, and other natural resource management activities, must have sustainable agriculture at its central focus.
The National Landcare Programme (NLP), the Australian Government’s natural resource management investment, currently has a strong emphasis on investments aimed at improving important environmental assets such as the Great Barrier Reef and Commonwealth listed endangered species and ecological communities. A significant portion of funding is also focused on the Green Army which delivers training for youth and the unemployed.
The NLP needs to be ‘rebalanced’ to renew its focus on achieving environmental outcomes through sustainable agriculture. This was the heart of the original ethos of Landcare that has faded over time.
Farmers adopt practices that benefit the environment and the entire community – like protecting biodiversity and improving water quality. Environmental stewardship and other marketbased instruments should be part of the NLP investment mix to recognise these efforts.
Industry best management practice programs should be central to the Government’s investment in sustainable agriculture. These programs integrate proven NRM practices into industry wide extensions efforts.
Landcare began formally in 1989 with a joint agreement between the National Farmers’ Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation to improve the sustainability of farmland, public land and waterways. Since this time, the Australian Government has provided ongoing investment to natural resource management activities, including the Landcare movement.
A core component of the Australian Government’s investment (the “Regional Stream”) is delivered through 54 regional NRM organisations, which each have a role in natural resource management planning and in program and project delivery. The “National Stream” is delivered directly by the Australian Government. Much of the national stream is focused on 20 Million Trees, the Green Army and the Reef Programme.
What the industry needs
- An equal share of investment for sustainable agriculture in the National Landcare Program.
- An expanded focus on industry validated BMPs, to encourage farmers to adopt practice changes that benefit the environment. BMPs that have productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes are more likely to be adopted and to be enduring.
- Rekindling of investment in stewardship and market based programs, so that the role of farmers in delivering biodiversity, water quality and other environmental outcomes for the community can be recognised.