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Farmers Emerge as Australia's Frontline Environmentalists

10 May 2006

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has announced that farmers are planting more trees for environmental reasons than they were a decade ago – with some 150 seedlings a year now being planted per farm solely for conservation purposes.

“The ABS figures prove what we’ve been saying for sometime,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Peter Corish said. “Farmers are embracing environmental sustainability on-farm as a fundamental part of building efficient, drought resistant and self-reliant businesses for today and into the future.

“Sound environmental management is actually making modern farms more productive. We know that in the past we, as a society, didn’t know any better about the importance of resource management. Today, conservation of water through water restrictions is the ‘norm’ in our cities. Likewise, environmental sustainability is the ‘norm’ for modern farming.

“Moreover, farmers are increasingly finding that many of the environmental icons the community wants to see preserved are literally in our backyards. For example, native vegetation and wildlife corridors are now being managed by farmers as custodians of those environmental treasures on behalf of all Australians.

“We’re immensely proud of the work farmers are doing to ensure conservation and preservation of Australian’s national resources.

“The Environmental Stewardship program NFF put to the Federal Government, and which Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran foreshadowed last month, would see farmers safeguarding the environment ‘over and beyond their normal duty of care’, recognised and supported in preserving the environmental assets the broader community identifies as important.

“This Stewardship program would recognise that farmers have been improving environmental sustainability on the farm and are taking greater responsibility for ecological land management. This delivers positive outcomes for farmers, the community and the environment.

“The release of this data by the ABS today, and the collection and collation of the 2005-06 ABS Agricultural Census being posted to farmers next month, underscores the crucial nature of the information being gathered.

“We strongly urge all farmers receiving the ABS Agricultural Census to complete the form and return it to the ABS as the benchmark evidence that demonstrates the vital contribution farming plays in Australia’s productive capacity and environmental landscape.”

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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