Good agricultural stewardship to be rewarded

Good agricultural stewardship to be rewarded

Grain
Farmers would get tangible benefits from working to sound stewardship principles under a system mooted by ag minister David Littleproud.

Farmers would get tangible benefits from working to sound stewardship principles under a system mooted by ag minister David Littleproud.

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The federal agriculture minister wants to see farmers get tangible rewards for investing in good stewardship practises.

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FARMERS will not just get a warm and fuzzy glow from good on-farm stewardship, such as belts of native vegetation regeneration or erosion prevention if federal agriculture minister David Littleproud gets his way.

Mr Littleproud outlined his ambition to implement a nationally and globally recognised accreditation standard which would allow farmers to target a premium in their marketing.

He said farmers who could demonstrate their biodiversity credentials would be eligible for the accreditation which would differentiate them from other producers.

"It is a great idea and it adds provenance to Australian food and fibre, which is something the world is screaming out for, especially in places like Europe."

Mr Littleproud said he was confident Australia was ahead of the pack when it came to the emerging issue of rewarding good environmental stewardship and sustainable farming practices but he added the opportunities this created needed to be seized immediately.

"We are leading the world in this at the moment in moving toward this, but the window of opportunity for us to grab that is very narrow and other nations will go past us."

Mr Littleproud wants to build on the practises already being undertaken through concepts such as the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program Fund announced last year, to create a marketplace for agricultural produce with environmental credentials including carbon storage.

Critical to his vision is a centralised model of accreditation.

To do this he said the Australian National University (ANU) had been enlisted to look at how to get a system up and running that works across the various state jurisdictions.

He said their pilot program was likely to be launched by March-April next year.

It is not only the premiums for product that is dangling as an incentive for growers.

Mr Littleproud said a number of investors interested in agriculture were also very keen to see some form of stewardship credentials when deciding where their money went.

He said environmentally conscious investors were draw to initiatives like the Climate Solutions Fund and that the feedback was they would like to be able to deal with accredited businesses.

Mr Littleproud said the concept behind the push was simple.

"My whole premise for this is about farmers being rewarded for stewardship of their land."

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