The Coalition Government is continuing its longstanding commitment to natural resource management, investing more than $1 billion for phase two of the National LandcareProgram, which will be delivered from July 2017 to June 2023 as announced in this year’s Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said phase two of the National Landcare Program recognised the vital role Australia’s farmers play in land management.
“Our farmers manage 61 per cent of Australia’s landmass and can make a significant contribution to the protection of vital assets such as our soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity,” said Minister Joyce.
“Our investment recognises this vital role, and includes funding to further develop sustainable land practices and build the resilience, competitiveness and productivity of our farmers including additional funding for Red Imported Fire Ant eradication and pest animal and weed management.”
The investment includes $134 million over six years for the Smart Farms program.
Smart Farms is focused on protecting Australia’s natural resources of soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity by facilitating the development and adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices
Mr Joyce said the Smart Farms initiative will support further development and adoption of sustainable farming practices. Grants to eligible organisations and individuals will assist farmers, fishers and aquaculture operators to protect natural resources, deliver benefits for the community and contribute to increased productivity, and farm-gate returns.
“The Coalition Government is backing Australia’s farmers who manage 61 per cent, or well over half, of Australia’s landmass, to meet our national and global demand for food and fibre,” Minister Joyce said.
“Our farmers have an international reputation as sustainable land managers and Smart Farms will assist farmers, fishers, community and industry groups to further develop and share better land management practices and therefore strengthen their resilience, competitiveness and productivity.
“This program includes small projects that can make a real difference to a local community and deliver excellent value for money.
“For example, Cotton Australia and the Cotton Research Development Corporation received just over $422,000 for an Innovation Grant from the current National Landcare Program for the project ‘Sustainable Australian Cotton Production Supplying International Markets, in Narrabri, NSW’.
“The project has improved the industry’s web-based, best management practice platform—myBMP— which is an important tool that incorporates and demonstrates to the community the industry’s improved farming practices and careful management of our natural resources.
“The project has also been pivotal in the development and integration of sustainability indicators to enable the Australian cotton industry to expand into internationally sustainable cotton markets.
The three elements to the Smart Farms Program are:
- Smart Farming Partnerships ($60 million over six years): Large multi-year grants for projects, with organisations working in partnership to develop, trial and implement new and innovative practices and tools that support uptake of sustainable agriculture practices across our agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and farm forestry industries.
- Smart Farms Small Grants ($50 million over six years): Small grants program (grants between $5,000 and $100,000) to develop and extend new tools and technologies that help farmers, fishers, foresters and regional communities adopt best practice land management.
- Building Landcare Community and Capacity ($24 million over six years): will support the sharing of knowledge and achievements and community leadership in adopting sustainable agricultural practices.
Speaking on the overall $1 billion program, Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, said, “This next phase of the program will help landcare, farmer groups and Indigenous communities continue their valuable work of delivering on-ground biodiversity and sustainable agricultural outcomes that benefit both our communities and our environment.”
The phase two investment includes:
- $450 million for the Regional Land Partnerships Program to deliver natural resource management at a regional scale.
- Funding for additional biosecurity measures to support the eradication of the Red Imported Fire Ant.
- $47.4 million for the management of World Heritage sites.
- $24.7 million towards delivering the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, in addition to the $83 million already allocated under the Program to implement the Plan from 2018-19 to 2021-22.
- $93 million for the ongoing support of existing Indigenous Protected Areas plus $15 million new funding.
- Funding for the establishment of the $20 million Centre for Invasive Species Solutions to drive research, development and extension activities to protect native ecosystems and habitats from pest animals and weeds.
- $5 million for an environment small grants program which local community and environment groups can access (up to $50,000) for local natural resource management activities.
“Guided by findings from the National Landcare Program Review, the regional delivery program will build on the strengths of the previous program and continue to connect and engage with local communities as part of its efforts to protect Australia’s unique environment and natural resources,” said Mr Frydenberg.
“Investment under this next phase will be targeted and delivered against national priorities that will benefit rural communities and deliver environmental and agricultural priorities.”
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Luke Hartsuyker, said the Government will be seeking the community’s views on the delivery arrangements of the Regional Land Partnerships Program over the coming weeks, holding consultation sessions in each state and territory to provide further information, answer questions and seek views.
“I encourage farmers, landcare groups, natural resource management practitioners, scientists, Indigenous and local communities to familiarise themselves with this information and take part in the upcoming public consultation period either through the face-to-face sessions or the online feedback form available at www.nrm.gov.au,” said Mr Hartsuyker.
Source: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. Further details on the consultation sessions and the National Landcare Program more broadly will be released via nrm.gov.au and the National Landcare Program Facebook page over the next few weeks. The key agriculture component of the new Landcare program is being finalised and will be announced in coming weeks.