New partnerships to build more sustainable agriculture

The Albanese Government is investing in a more sustainable future for Australian agriculture, to protect against the impacts of climate change and reaffirm our trusted position in the global trade market.

To assist in reaching this aim and build on farmers’ own efforts to lift their sustainability, the 2023-24 Budget has allocated $302 million over five years to a Climate Smart Agriculture package under the next phase of the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT).

Speaking from a Cairns sugar cane farm that has reaped the benefits of improved soil health today, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt this new focus on climate adaptation was a key shift in the NHT, compared to the former Coalition Government.

Minister Watt said that farmers will be supported to adopt sustainable practices, build resilience to climate change, harness carbon and biodiversity markets, and protect and invest in natural capital and biodiversity.

“Protecting our farmers from climate change and grabbing the opportunities that come with it are key priorities for our government,” Minister Watt said.

“In addition, our trading partners and Australian consumers are looking for increased proof of sustainable farming practices.

“We now have a Federal Government that shares the agriculture sector’s own climate ambitions and is prepared to match it with real dollars.

“That’s why we have allocated funding to the next five-year phase of the NHT to drive on the ground projects that really deliver.

“These projects will trial, demonstrate and implement climate-smart agriculture practices and deliver regional landscape priority projects focused on effective natural resource management.”

Minister Watt said the projects would be supported by a network of Sustainable Agriculture Facilitators to provide farmers with access to trusted advice.

“More than $40 million will support a network of Sustainable Agriculture Facilitators to provide extension services,” he said.

“I’ve met so many farmers who want to embrace more sustainable practices but need support and advice on how they can do it.

“These services will give farmers access to trusted advice on climate-smart agriculture practices, and carbon and biodiversity markets to inform critical investment decisions for their future sustainability.

“We will also support farmers to improve soil health with $20 million for soil investments, including on-farm soil sample collection and soil monitoring, and to continue the National Soil Community of Practice.

“A further $35.7 million will ensure regional delivery partners and peak land care organisations maintain capacity and are primed to deliver sustainable agriculture initiatives efficiently and at scale.”

Minister Watt said the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of Australia’s agricultural industry relies on the ability of the sector to address climate risks, protect the health of farmland and demonstrate its sustainability to international markets.

“ABARES modelling shows that changes in seasonal conditions due to climate change in the last 20 years have reduced annual average farm profits by 23%, or around $29,200 per farm.”

“Adapting to climate change can help our farmers avoid those losses, but also reduce their costs and improve earnings.

“Recent international trade negotiations have shown Australia’s agriculture sustainability credentials are becoming more important for our trading partners.

“Export markets need to be aware of our agriculture sector’s long-term and ongoing practice of sustainable farming.

“Through this investment, we can ensure our agriculture industry has a secure future and can continue to support thriving communities.”