Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud today announced a pilot program which promises to deliver financial rewards for improving biodiversity, recognising farmers’ important role as environmental stewards.
A $30 million pilot Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program would see farmers receive income for projects that boost biodiversity and absorb carbon.
Projects may include maintaining and enhancing remnant forest, regeneration of gullies or waterways, or native tree plantings.
“These programs will be tailored across different commodities and different regions and if successful, I hope it will be expanded as national policy following the trial.
“I’ve always thought farmers should see the benefits of managing biodiversity on their properties, and a market based system can become a drought-proof income stream for them,” Mr Littleproud said.
The Opposition has also shown its support for the Program with Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon stating that “Labor supports the concept of biodiversity certification, a model we have championed for many years, but we will await the detail.”
It has also been announced that a further $4 million will go towards a national and internationally recognised biodiversity certification scheme. This scheme will help biodiversity-friendly farmers get an extra premium for their product at the checkout and when they trade with other countries.
This scheme will be developed in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), to ensure it is owned and directed by industry.
Australian agricultural produce is renowned across the world as clean, green and safe.NFF President Fiona Simson.
“Australian farmers export 70 per cent of what we produce. We complete in a highly competitive international environment.
“A scheme that certifies and differentiates Australian agriculture from our competitors and which helps to attract a premium for our farmers is welcomed,” she said.
According to Minister Littleproud, a biodiversity certification scheme will give farmers motivation and reward for looking after their natural environment.
“If shoppers are prepared to pay more for produce that carries a biodiversity stamp then let’s create a brand and reward farmers who do that,” he said.
Rewards for the environmental services offered by farmers forms a key element of the NFF’s 2030 Roadmap – industry’s plan to achieve farm gate output of $100 billion by 2030.
“More needs to be done to reach our goal and this funding will be of great assistance,” Ms Simson said.