PROGRAMS to improve soil quality, investments in on the ground projects and a new network of facilitators to help farmers to improve sustainability on their properties are key parts of the federal government’s new plan for a sustainable agriculture system.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Murray Watt, outlined and explained the program in a speech to the Australian Food Institute Agrifood Strategy Roundtable.
Senator Watt said building the sustainability of Australian agriculture and helping the sector adapt to climate change was a core priority of the Albanese government.
“That’s why we have committed more than $302 million through the Natural Heritage Trust to create the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program,” he said.
“The Natural Heritage Trust is the government’s key investment platform for achieving its natural resource management, sustainable agriculture and environment protection outcomes.”
“Programs will also facilitate industry adoption of climate-smart practices to help reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.”
Senator Watt said the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program continued the investment into sustainability and natural resource management.
The Climate-Smart Agriculture Program is being delivered through a series of integrated investment streams over five years including:
- $45 million for Partnerships and Innovation grants;
- $15 million for Capacity Building grants;
- $36 million in soil measures;
- $13 million for small grants;
- $35.7 million toward operational capacity of regional delivery partners and national Landcare organisations;
- $85.6 million towards on-ground sustainable agriculture and natural resource management projects lead by our regional delivery partners, and;
- $40.7 million for a network of sustainable agriculture facilitators.
“Together, this integrated suite of investment represents a clear-sighted and comprehensive response to what we have heard through consultation with agriculture stakeholders up to now,” Minister Watt said.
“It positions farmers and landholders to adapt to the emerging and anticipated challenges of climate change, embrace sustainable agriculture practices and develop their sustainability credentials.”
In 2020/21, agriculture produced 16.8 per cent of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
In a separate speech to the Australian Farm Institute, Senator Watt said in 2020/21, agriculture produced 16.8 per cent of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions.
“As our energy sector decarbonises, without further action, agriculture’s share of our national emissions is likely to increase, not fall,” he said.
“A warming world is a real threat to Australian agriculture.”
Senator Watt said ABARES modelling showed that changing seasonal conditions (2001/2020) had reduced the profitability of Australian farms by an average of 23 per cent, or about $29,200 per farm between 2001 and 2020.
“Fear of approaching drought is one factor contributing to the big fall we’ve been seeing in livestock prices,” he said.
“So addressing the physical and transitional risks of climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture sector, but importantly it is also an opportunity for us.
“By adapting to climate change, we can lift the sector’s productivity, reduce input costs and maintain and open new markets that demand ever more sustainable production.”
For more information on the Climate-Smart Agriculture Program, visit agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/farm-food-drought/natural-resources/landcare/climate-smart