Farmers, fishers and community groups will soon be ‘farming smarter’ following the announcement of a landmark new program under the next phase of the Government’s National Landcare Program.
The new $134 million Smart Farms program – announced by Deputy Prime Minister Joyce and Assistant Minister Hartsuyker yesterday – will be welcome news to farmers, according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Smart Farms initiative will support further development and adoption of sustainable farming practices.
“Our farmers have an international reputation as sustainable land managers and Smart Farms will assist farmers, fishers, community and industry groups to further develop and share better land management practices and therefore strengthen their resilience, competitiveness and productivity," Minister Joyce said.
“This program includes small projects that can make a real difference to a local community and deliver excellent value for money."
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said farming and regional communities will continue to benefit from the Government’s investment.
“There are three elements to the Smart Farms Program and each will focus on improving soil, vegetation and biodiversity condition and support agricultural systems to adapt to change,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
NFF President Fiona Simson said Smart Farms (which is funded under the Government’s $1.1 billion allocation to the National Landcare Program) is an important investment towards a more sustainable farm sector.
“The Smart Farms program will support the promotion and adoption of best practices that improve the condition of soil, native vegetation and biodiversity – and importantly also improve productivity and profitability,” Ms Simson said.
“This sort of investment helps further Australia’s global reputation as a source of safe and sustainable food and fibre.
"The resources provided under the National Landcare Program, along with the investment made by industry and individual farmers, helps us not only talk the talk when it comes to sustainability – but also walk the walk.
“The program will provide opportunities for groups large and small to help farmers improve their sustainability. This includes small local grower groups, trial groups, sustainable farming practice groups, Landcare groups and larger industry organisations,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF also welcomed the Government’s focus on partnerships across many aspects of the new National Landcare Program.
“We look forward to seeing projects funded that harness the knowledge, experience and networks of agriculture, natural resource management, science, and conservation organisations to promote positive change.
“We strongly encourage groups large or small to put forward their project ideas in the upcoming grant rounds. Ultimately, the success of this investment will depend on the quality of projects that are put forward for funding,” Ms Simson concluded.
The three elements to the Smart Farms Program are:
- Smart Farming Partnerships ($60 million over six years): Large multi-year grants for projects, with organisations working in partnership to develop, trial and implement new and innovative practices and tools that support uptake of sustainable agriculture practices across our agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and farm forestry industries.
- Smart Farms Small Grants ($50 million over six years): Small grants program (grants between $5,000 and $100,000) to develop and extend new tools and technologies that help farmers, fishers, foresters and regional communities adopt best practice land management.
- Building Landcare Community and Capacity ($24 million over six years): will support the sharing of knowledge and achievements and community leadership in adopting sustainable agricultural practices.
Further details on the Smart Farms Program will be available on www.nrm.gov.au and on the National Landcare Program Facebook page over the next few weeks.