Greens candidate for Gippsland Marjorie Thorpe has spruiked the merits of regenerative farming as the party unveiled a suite of agriculture policies ahead of this month’s federal election.
The Greens want to establish a $250 million Green Agriculture Australia research and development centre to develop sustainable farming solutions.
Other aims include restoring Carbon Farming Futures grants, reform organic labelling and support for organic certification, and to build an Australian hemp, cannabis and seaweed farming industry.
Ms Thorpe visited cattle producers David and Ruth Read and Jen and Peter Ribolli at Woodcote Farms at Perry Bridge last month, learning about their switch to regenerative practices 21 years ago.
The farm’s approach has increased soil fertility, doing away with urea, super phosphate and other expensive chemical inputs.
The families’ nature-friendly water management techniques and rotational grazing have created climatic resilience on their three farms. “We’re not cattle farmers,” Mr Read said.
“We farm the biology. We use scientifically based management methods to nurture and build the biodiversity in our soil and plants. The animals, the environment and our bottom line all benefit.”
Ms Ribolli said the farm demonstrated how Australia’s agricultural sector could easily go beyond carbon neutral, to positive carbon sequestration.
Ms Thorpe is a Gunaikurnai elder and the mother of Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, and is aiming to gain traction in what is currently a safe seat held by Nationals MP Darren Chester.
She said regenerative agricultural could positively improve on-farm soil health, biodiversity, and productivity.
“Agriculture can make many positive contributions to mitigate climate change in ways that also increases farm productivity and food security,” Ms Thorpe said.
“With organic, biodynamic and regenerative agriculture, the aim is to work with nature, not against it.
“This not only stores more carbon and grows healthier plant life; it also makes for healthier animals, improved productivity, and better-quality food. It’s a win-win-win all round.”