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Sustainable farming is a modern reality

4 June 2008

“AUSTRALIA’S farmers occupy and manage 61% of Australia’s landmass,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said as the nation’s peak farm group marks World Environment Day. “As such, they are at the frontline in delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the broader community.

“At a time of global food insecurity, where prices are spiralling out-of-control and foreign governments are engaged in bizarre trade distorting policies that actually tell farmers not to produce more to meet world food needs, the real value of food production has been brought home to all of us.

“Likewise, we must undertake food production in a sensible, responsible and environmentally-sustainable way. That’s a cause Australian farmers are winning on all fronts. Australian farmers spent $3.3 billion on Natural Resource Management (NRM) over 2004-05, managing or preventing weed, pest, land and soil, native vegetation or water-related issues on their properties.

“Australian farmers are planting more trees for environmental purposes. In 1991, the Agricultural Census recorded that farmers planted 9,000,000 tree seedlings for conservation purposes. By 2001, farmers planted 20.6 million trees per year, solely for conservation purposes.

“Over the 2005/06 year, more than 986,000 hectares of environmentally-sensitive farmland was fenced-off and put out of production to protect it. Meanwhile, Australian primary industries have led the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions – a massive 40% reduction over the past 15 years.

“NRM is a fundamental activity on the majority of Australian farms. In fact, NRM practices are employed on 86% of Australian farms. In addition, 92% of Australian farms undertook some form of activity to prevent or manage NRM issues, illustrating that the overwhelming majority of our farmers use preventative measures to avoid NRM issues affecting the land.

“Recently, under the 2008 Federal Budget, the Australian Government developed a one-stop program under its $2.2 billion ‘Caring For Our Country’ initiative, recognising the work farmers already do in sustainable agriculture and protecting Australia’s natural resources, to encourage greater undertakings.

“The NFF is intimately involved in the development, implementation and promotion of these programs, as well as those that complement it – including the world-first ‘Environmental Stewardship’ programme and the ‘Australia’s Farming Future’ programme (geared towards climate change and drought-proofing measures), both initiated by the NFF.

“Our farmers have a long-standing commitment to managing their properties and broader environmental needs in a proactive and responsible manner... a fact that should not be forgotten on the occasion of World Environment Day.”

[ENDS]

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

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