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Environmental Stewardship to Recognise Farmers' Efforts

12 April 2006

FARMERS are Australia’s frontline environmentalists, embracing eco-friendly farm practices and innovative technology to enhance their (and the nation’s) natural resources. It’s only fitting they should be provided incentives for preserving and managing Australia’s natural treasures and environmental icons.

Under our stewardship proposal announced in the media today by Federal Minister for Agriculture Peter McGauran, farmers would be formally recognised and supported for going over and beyond their normal duty of care in safeguarding the environment.

“Environmental management at the farm gate is two-pronged,” NFF President Peter Corish explained. “In a business sense, sound environmental management has helped deliver more effective and efficient farming techniques that make the sector viable and sustainable – environmentally-friendly solutions are actually creating greater long-term profitability, drought resistance and giving our resources greater longevity.

“The second factor, supported by the Minister’s comments today, is that many Australian farmers may be required by various laws to reserve significant sections of their properties to preserve native vegetation, essentially having stewardship of those natural resources on behalf of all Australians.

“Quite rightly, the community has an expectation that our natural resources, environmental icons and native vegetation – and the wildlife dependant on it, are to be preserved and protected. The problem is that many of those treasures are literally in farmers’ backyards.

“Not only do farmers lose the productive capacity of those areas from their farming operations, but they also incur ongoing costs in terms of the requirements on them to maintain and protect the land, such as pest and weed management and maintaining green corridors for wildlife conservation.

“Under the Stewardship Program NFF proposes, farmers taking responsibility for the environmental management of those protected lands on their property will be recognised and supported for providing that community service.

“This program would acknowledge the imposts in meeting the community’s expectations regarding environmental management and farmers’ expertise in delivering sound land management ‘on-the-ground’.

“Australia’s farmers own and manage over 60% of our country’s landmass. We are not divorced from the rest of the community in wanting to preserve our environment. We work and live in Australia’s natural environment every day, we’re very much part of it.

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

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

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