Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud has announced new programs which would see farmers receive incentives for a range of projects to improve biodiversity on farms, incorporating payment for carbon if appropriate.
A $30 million pilot Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program would see farmers receive incentives for projects that boost biodiversity and also, if appropriate, absorb carbon. Projects such as maintaining or enhancing remnant forest, regeneration of gullies or waterways, or mixed species native tree plantings could be examples of projects.
Additionally, $4 million will go towards creating a national and internationally recognised biodiversity certification scheme to help biodiversity-friendly farmers get an extra premium for their product at the checkout and when they trade with other countries.
The NFF will help develop this certification scheme so farm groups have ownership of and invest in it.
“I’ve always thought farmers should see the benefits managing the biodiversity on their properties, and a market based system can become a drought-proof income stream for them,” said David.
“These programs will be trailed across different commodities and in different regions and if successful, I hope it will be expanded as national policy following the trial.
“An on-farm biodiversity policy and methodology will need to be developed and we’ll be consulting with Australian National University and farm groups on this.
“Farmers are already making money from carbon payments and in the future we could potentially see farmers receiving payment for both biodiversity and carbon benefits from the same project.
“This pilot program is not part of the Carbon Solutions Fund – this is a dedicated trial aimed at biodiversity, although of course projects will likely have a carbon benefit also which farmers deserve recognition for.
“Farmers should be rewarded for having plants and animals on their farm, not penalised through banning them using that land and offering no compensation,” said David.