$250m sustainable research centre the jewel in Greens' ag policy

Jamieson Murphy
By Jamieson Murphy
Updated March 27 2022 - 8:43pm, first published 8:00pm
$250m sustainable research centre the jewel in Greens' ag policy

A $250-MILLION sustainable agriculture research centre will be created under the Greens agriculture policy and the party has promised to re-establish a $25-million program to support carbon farming.

The party has also vowed to create thousands of ag jobs by rapidly expanding the budding hemp, cannabis and seaweed sectors and reform organic labelling to protect producers.

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Greens agriculture spokesperson, Peter Whish-Wilson said while farmers endorse mission reduction targets, with most peak industry bodies setting their own ambitious targets, the Coalition had sabotaged climate policy.

"Few industries are more impacted by climatic disruption to ecosystems and biodiversity than farming," Senator Whish-Wilson said.

"I've met plenty of farmers who care deeply about their land, understand the changes they are seeing around them and want to do their bit for climate action.

"But the Liberals and Nationals seven year sabotage of climate policy continues to shoot farmers in the foot."

Senator Whish-Wilson said in developing the Greens' agriculture policy, the party had listened to farmers and scientists, and planned to pay for the promises by making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax and winding back handouts to big polluters.

The $250m research centre would invest in sustainable farming solutions, including organic, biodynamic and regenerative agriculture, with state-wide farm training centres to spread the knowledge.

It would also investigate novel technologies such as plant-based protein alternatives, methane reducing feed supplements, precision agriculture and new biological solutions for increasing carbon drawdown.

"The Greens plan for regenerative agriculture is about improving both farm and farmer resilience against extreme weather events, while keeping farms economically viable and our environment healthy," Senator Whish-Wilson said.

The Carbon Farming Futures program would be restored, providing $25m every year to develop on-farm carbon projects.

Before the grant scheme was axed by the Coalition in 2016, Senator Whish Wilson said more than $139m was handed out to more than 200 projects across the country.

"By restoring funding to this program, we will see hundreds more carbon reducing projects get off the ground," he said.

"Farmers are an important part of the climate solution, and benefit from taking climate action in so many ways."

The global hemp market is forecasted to grow from $3.5 billion to $26.6 billion by 2025.

Senator Whish-Wilson said the sector was a significant opportunity for Australia and his party wanted to supercharge the industry's growth by investing $20m to support partners and research.

The Greens also want to remove regulatory barriers for hemp production, along with any unnecessary restrictions on patient access to medical cannabis, to allow the "under-utilised" domestic market to grow.

Seaweed was another crop with enormous potential, growing 30 times faster than crops onshore. It could be a $1.5-billion agricultural sector within two decades, due to its ability to reduce methane emissions in livestock while improving their productivity.

The Greens will support increased investment in accessing seaweed in aquaculture, by funding a cooperative research centre with $50 million from the federal government.

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An $10m Organic Advisory Service would be established to support farmers understand organic alternatives and certification requirements.

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Jamieson Murphy

Jamieson Murphy

National Rural Affairs reporter

National Rural Affairs reporter, focusing on rural politics and issues. Whisper g'day mate to me at jamieson.murphy@austcommunitymedia.com.au

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