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Sustainability the Key to Farmers' Future

20 February 2006

The timing of the Australian Agriculture and Food Policy Reference Group report could not have been better for Australia’s environment. With the Government currently reviewing the Natural Heritage Trust program and beginning work on the next environmental flagship program, the report provides strong guidance on delivering environmental outcomes in the best possible way, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said today.

“NFF has long been calling for a fundamental change to the way environmental outcomes are sought. NFF recognises the need for regulation but supports a more balanced approach with an increased use of incentives for the delivery of public good environmental outcomes,” NFF CEO, Mr Ben Fargher said.

“An unprecedented opportunity is now available to industry, Government and the broader community to deliver better environmental outcomes for all Australians. As custodians of more than 60 per cent of the entire Australian landscape, farmers hold the key to environmental sustainability and protection.

Mr Fargher said the Reference Group report ‘Creating Our Future’ released last week, highlighted the interdependence of the environment and agriculture. Without a sustainable environment there can be no future for primary industry.

“Long-term profitability and sustainability are not competing interests but go hand in hand. The more sustainable the environment, the more profitable a farmer will be in the long-term and the more profitable a farmer can be, the more resources he or she has to dedicate to environmental protection and sustainability.” Mr Fargher said.

NFF is currently working to rebalance the traditional command and control approach of regulation with a stewardship program that will provide support for farmers delivering public good environmental outcomes for the broader community.

“Through Government priorities, the broader community will be able to decide which environmental outcomes they are keen to deliver. Through this stewardship program, they will then be able to purchase these outcomes from landholders,” Mr Fargher said.

“The National Water Initiative (NWI) is a good example of how a truly national reform agenda can work. The NWI represents a shared commitment in recognition of increased productivity and efficiency, the need to service rural and urban communities; and ensuring the health of our environment.

“As the Reference Group report identifies, there is no doubt that the framework of resource security and long-term certainty that the NWI creates, points the way to ensuring the successful future of native vegetation and biodiversity environmental management in Australia,” Mr Fargher concluded.

Media Enquiries: Emma Keogh, NFF Public Relations Officer, (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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