Sustainable Ag Summit to drive path forward

The Albanese Government will hold a high-level summit next month to continue work with the agriculture sector on the path forward to reduce the sector’s emissions while improving productivity and profitability.

The Sustainable Ag Summit will focus on how our agriculture sector can meet its own climate goals, actively playing its part in the government’s economy-wide emissions reduction targets and locking in its long-term future.

Federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Murray Watt will bring together more than 150 farmers, peak agricultural lobby groups, researchers, environmental groups, energy experts and senior departmental staff from around the country on the Darling Downs in late May.

Minister Watt said working with farmers to help build their long-term sustainability is a core priority for the Albanese Government.

“Our farmers are on the front line of climate change,” Minister Watt said.

“They are facing more severe and frequent natural disasters, which are having a direct financial impact on their businesses.

“For nearly a decade their pleas for a coherent climate policy fell on deaf ears from the Coalition, so they went it alone, setting ambitious targets that were not matched by government.

“The Albanese Government is determined to work with farmers and the wider industry to help them become more sustainable, more profitable and more productive.

“By doing this, we will collectively help secure the future of Australian agriculture, which is good for farmers, good for our economy and good for our environment.”

Minister Watt said the Summit would be a chance for industry to discuss the Ag and Land Sector Decarbonisation Plan, one of six such plans for various industry sectors under the Government’s Net Zero 2050 Plan.

“We will not be setting an emissions reduction target for our agriculture sector, but the sector will need to contribute to achieving our economy-wide emissions reductions targets.

“This is an opportunity for the sector to continue its journey towards more sustainable production, while reducing its costs and lifting its profitability.

“The development of the plan signals our intention to work in partnership with industry, creating a joint vision to create an internationally competitive industry that not only navigates, but thrives, in a low emissions future,” he said.

“Climate change is clearly having an impact on the profitability of producers across the country, with ABARES data showing that changes in seasonal conditions have already reduced average Australian farm profits by an $29,000 over the past 20 years.

“And as a proud exporting nation, it’s also becoming more and more important from a trade perspective that our industry becomes more sustainable.

“Through extensive consultation already undertaken by the Department, stakeholders have already raised several options for the government to consider.

“These include issues like investment in research and development, incentives to adopt new technologies and land management practices, building landholder capacity, and establishing standardised approaches to calculating and reporting emissions.

“Bringing together the leaders of industry for this Summit will galvanise the sector around these ideas and chart a unified way forward to achieve productive outcomes.”

National Farmers’ Federation President David Jochinke said collaboration with government and other stakeholders on these issues is critical.

“Agriculture is incredibly complex and hard to abate,” he said.

“Achieving net zero as a sector may be beyond what’s technologically possible, so co-designing innovation and research with government needs to be a priority.

“We look forward to getting stuck into these conversations to help farmers transition to lower emissions and higher profitability.”

Farmers for Climate Action Chair and beef producer Brett Hall said farmers are leading the way as we move towards a cleaner future.

“We welcome that Minister Watt has expressly stated that he will not be setting an emissions reduction target for agriculture.

“We want to do our bit as custodians already leading in this area, with some farms having already achieved net zero emissions on farm.

“We know that there is much to do across different commodities across our nation to create a profitable, productive and sustainable agriculture sector that all Australians can be proud of.

“We know agriculture can improve productivity as it reduces emissions, because we've already done it and we're doing it every day.

“We especially welcome Minister Watt's statement that he aims to work in partnership with industry as we all contribute to emissions reduction.

“We all know goals are achieved when people work together.”

The Albanese Government is investing in climate smart agriculture, both through government-industry Research and Development Corporations (RDCs), and directly by boosting carbon farming and forestry jobs.

It is also investing in methane reducing feed supplements and helping farmers take up opportunities on-farm through a Climate Smart Agriculture package under the next phase of the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT).

Last year, Agriculture Ministers jointly endorsed the National Statement on Climate Change and Agriculture.

The national statement demonstrates Agriculture Ministers’ strong commitment to work in partnership with the agriculture sector to ensure it achieves its full potential as a world-leading, climate-smart producer and exporter of food and fibre.

Invitations and more details of the Summit will be released soon. For more information about the Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan, visit: Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan - DAFF