Sustainable Agriculture stream strategic directions 2013-18

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Nov 9, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Sustainable Agriculture stream strategic
directions 2013
-
18





























The Sustainable Agriculture stream is delivered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as
part of the Australian Government’s Caring for our
Country initiative.


© Commonwealth of Australia 2013


All material in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution

3.0 Australia Licence, save for content supplied by third parties, logos and the

Commonwealth Coat of Arms.


Creative Comm
ons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence is a standard form licence

agreement that allows you to
copy, distribute, transmit and adapt this publication

provided you attribute the work. The full licence terms
are

available from

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This publication, and any material sourced from it, should be attributed as

Sustaining Agriculture stream
strategic directions 2013

18, the Department of

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, CC BY 3.0.


The Australian Government acting t
hrough the Department of Agriculture,

Fisheries and Forestry has
exercised due care and skill in the preparation and

compilation of the information set out in this document.
Notwithstanding, the

Australian Government, its employees and advisors disclaim al
l liability, including

liability for negligence, for any loss, damage, injury, expense or cost incurred by

any person as a result of
accessing, using or relying upon any of the information in

this publication to the maximum extent permitted
by law.


ISBN 9
78
-
1
-
921575
-
33
-
4 (online)


Printed on recycled paper.


This document is available on nrm.gov.au



Minister’s foreword


Australia’s landscape is central to our national identity, agriculture and economy.


The State of the Environment report (2011)
highlights the continuing vulnerability of Australia’s natural
environment and the environmental threats faced by our food and fibre industries
.


That’s why the natural resource management work being done around this country is so important. Farmers
manag
e over 60 per cent of the Australian land mass and their actions have direct implications for the
Australian community. As the global demand for food increases, achieving productivity while ensuring our
agricultural and fisheries resources are sustainable
and resilient will become more important than ever. This
change brings with it some challenges but also enormous opportunities for our farmers and fishers.


The Gillard Labor Government has renewed its commitment to Caring for our Country for another five
years,

securing further funding to continue the program from 2013

14 to 2017

18.
This five
-
year commitment by
the Gillard Government to the second phase of Caring for our Country means work will continue to be carried
out by farming communities to manage a
nd protect our natural resources. It will continue to build on Labor’s
legacy of protecting and conserving our biodiversity and promoting the adoption of sustainable farm practices.


Caring for our Country remains a key priority for the Gillard Government
, and through it we will support a
broad range of groups to undertake high quality natural resource management projects that are important to
local communities and which contribute to the health of our environment into the future.


This second phase of Car
ing for our Country will have complementary Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable
Environment streams. These streams will encourage greater efficiency and more focused delivery of our
agriculture and fisheries priorities within the government’s broader s
ustainability agenda.


The Sustainable Agriculture stream will support the uptake of more sustainable farm and fisheries practices
and enhance the capacity of land managers for improved natural resource management. This support will be
available across all

forms of production, including cropping, grazing, horticulture, agroforestry, fisheries and
aquaculture.


The Sustainable Agriculture stream is being delivered in the context of other major government policies and
initiatives, including the National Food

Plan, Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity, the Carbon
Farming Initiative as part of the Gillard Government’s Clean Energy Future’s Land Sector Package, drought
policy reform, Commonwealth review of sustainable fisheries management and the National
Volunteering
Strategy.


The Government will deliver the Caring for our Country Sustainable Agriculture stream through a mix of
investment approaches, including community grants, regional delivery and strategic investments.


The attached statement outlines
what I consider to be ambitious but achievable outcomes for the Sustainable
Agriculture stream of the second phase of Caring for our Country. It will be used to guide our investment
decisions and to help us determine the most efficient ways of taking actio
n
together
.


I invite you to join us in building a sustainable future under Caring for our Country.




Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Introduction

Caring for our Country is the Australian Government’s primary natural resource management program. Over the
long term, it aims to achieve an environment that is healthier, better protected, well managed, resilient, and
provides essential ecosystem services

in a changing climate.


The review of the first phase of Caring for our Country (2008
-
2013) found that the initiative has successfully set and
delivered Australian Government investment priorities. It is on track to deliver on its five
-
year outcomes and
helping improve the condition of our natural resources at the landscape scale.



Two streams, one vision

From 2013
-
14 to 2017
-
18, Caring for our Country, will be delivered through separate Sustainable Agriculture and
Sustainable Environment streams. It wil
l be delivered in a coordinated manner, with one overarching long term
vision.



Healthy, productive and resilient agricultural landscapes are fundamental to the provision of ecosystem servic
es,
continuing sustainable food and fibre production and the sustainability of rural and regional communities.


Caring for our Country will continue to target the major Australian Government priorities and obligations of the
first phase of Caring for our C
ountry investment while also addressing emerging national natural resource
management priorities.


Caring for our Country is one of
several major

government initiatives that form a comprehensive and integrated
approach to natural resource management in Aus
tralia. These initiatives include the National Food Plan, the Clean
Energy Future’s Land Sector Package and the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity.


This document outlines the specific outcomes that the Sustainable Agriculture stream will deliver f
rom 2013
-
14 to
2017
-
18. It identifies some of the strategies for achieving these outcomes and places them within the context of
the strategic

objectives the Australian Government is aiming to achieve under the Caring for our Country
Sustainable Agriculture

stream.





Strategic five
-
year
outcomes

for the Sustainable Agriculture stream

Long
-
term (20
-
Year) projection:


Australia’s agricultural lands will support and maintain clean water, biodiversity and healthy soils, while
continuously improving food and
fibre productivity. The agricultural sector will operate on the principle of
sustainable management of natural resources and be better able to respond to threats and opportunities created
by changing circumstances, particularly a changing climate.


The str
ategic objectives of the Sustainable Agriculture stream of Caring for our Country over the next five years are
to:



promote sustainable production of food



promote innovation in Australian agriculture and fisheries practices



take a strategic approach to redu
cing the impact of weeds and pests on agriculture



improve management of agriculture and fisheries on the natural resource base



foster a skilled and capable Landcare community.


In developing the second phase of the Caring for our Country program the Gover
nment has taken into account the
achievements and successes of the first phase, feedback received during the review and consultation process and
current scientific data and research to refine outcomes for the Sustainable Agriculture stream.


Protecting the

resource base

By 2018 Caring for our Country will have:



increased the percentage and area of farming entities using sustainable land management practices to
increase productivity and improve the quality of ecosystem services delivered to the broader commu
nity
from their land, while building their resilience to climate change



increased the percentage of fishing and aquaculture entities that have adopted sustainable and low
environmental impact management practices to increase productivity



increased the
number and area of farming and fishing sector entities that have trialled innovative practices
for improved natural resources management



implemented national eradication strategies (agreed on a risk
-
return basis) for new plant, animal and disease
incursion
s that threaten production and the environment.


Strategies to achieve these outcomes include support for:



maintaining groundcover levels above regional groundcover targets to reduce soil and nutrient loss, through
wind and water erosion, and improve air a
nd water quality



managing soil acidification to improve productivity and avoid future loss of productive land through subsoil
acidification



managing nutrient addition to soils to improve productivity, reduce losses into waterways and slow rates of
soil aci
dification



improving soil health through better soil biology, better nutrient matching and management of soil structure
where it can be demonstrated that this will lead to increased productivity, provision of ecosystem services
and reduced nutrient loss



ad
opting sustainable land management practices to reduce discharge of sediments, nutrients and chemicals
from agricultural lands into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon



adopting, extending and implementing industry guidelines and codes of practice for sustainable

management practice activities in the fishing/aquaculture industry



industry actions and investments (including trials, pilots and promotions) that reduce the impact and spread
of invasive species



building government
-
industry partnerships to implement agr
eed weed, pest and disease eradication
strategies



providing information on new technologies to help land and marine resource managers make better
decisions about sustainable practices and ecosystem services



building partnerships that leverage public fundin
g to improve sustainable natural resources management
and increase productivity across a range of primary industries through the use of flexible, innovative and
cost
-
effective approaches.


Improving planning and capacity for resource and environmental mana
gement

By 2018 Caring for our Country will have:



increased the percentage of farming and fishing entities and land managers with the knowledge and skills to
manage our natural resources and deliver ecosystem services



increased the capacity and confidence o
f regional community leaders, including women, young people,
Indigenous Australians and people from culturally diverse communities involved in agriculture or fisheries
production and the protection of natural resources



increased engagement and participatio
n by regional communities and groups, including Landcare,
professional farming system groups, industry, other community groups or individuals in natural resource
management activities



increased the use of institutional, sectoral, market and supply chain
-
ba
sed initiatives to promote adoption of
sustainable farm practices, including the consistent use of indicators of sustainability across industry sectors.

Strategies to achieve these outcomes include:



implementing, through regional natural resource manageme
nt organisations, an action plan for working with
a range of partners to establish benchmarks for improved management practices and identified activities to
improve the uptake of practices



working with community and industry organisations, particularly
Landcare, to build the skills and capacity of
resource managers to deal with emerging threats and opportunities in sustainable production and resource
management



encouraging effective partnerships between stakeholders, including industry, regional, communi
ty, Landcare
groups, Indigenous groups, research and teaching organisations and governments to extend information
training to drive practice change



supporting Landcare infrastructure components, such as the Australian Landcare Council, National Landcare
Fa
cilitator, Regional Landcare Facilitators and national and state Landcare conferences and awards that
foster and promote outstanding and innovative achievements



encouraging projects that foster supply chain linkages to ensure the clear flow of market signa
ls for
improved natural resources management



training fishers to improve their knowledge and skills in areas such as ecosystem management and
sustainable fishing practices



improved

information sharing amongst commercial fishers, recreational fishers and th
e community.

Better understanding our natural resources and resource management challenges

By 2018 Caring for our Country will:



develop a national surveillance framework for weeds that engages stakeholders in incursions, containment
and ongoing management

responses where there is a national, trade or community related impact



implement a nationally coordinated program of targeted agricultural chemical and veterinary medicine
residue monitoring of Australian grown produce for domestic consumption



increase co
mmunity awareness and understanding of the status of Australia’s natural resources (land,
forests and fisheries).

Strategies to achieve these outcomes include:



building engagement of, and ownership by, the community in surveillance and rapid response manag
ement,
including adoption of new tools for detecting and identifying weeds



undertaking natural resource management surveys in partnership with industries and jurisdictions, such as
monitoring changes in adoption of sustainable management practices through
the biennial Australian Bureau
of Statistics Land Management Practices Survey



reporting on the health of natural resources and the products derived from them, such as integration of
regional data by the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network data informati
cs systems, in accordance with
objectives for the National Plan for Environmental Information and the Atlas of Living Australia and in
alignment with State of the Environment reporting requirements



developing support mechanisms to respond to agricultural c
hemical and veterinary medicine residue
violations; mechanisms include data management and chemical access protocols and prompt review of
control of use arrangements where significant systemic issues are identified



building systems to address bycatch reduc
tion, water exchange, nutrient, chemical and sediment
management in aquaculture farms (including minimising off
-
site impacts and risks), changing environmental
conditions, and emerging challenges.


Delivering the Sustainable
Agriculture

stream

The Australi
an Government will deliver the Caring for our Country Sustainable Agriculture stream through a mix of
investment approaches, including community grants, regional delivery and strategic investments.


Community Landcare Grants

Funding will be provided
through Caring for our Country Community Landcare Grants to assist community
-
based
organisations and groups to contribute to the strategic objectives of the Sustainable Agriculture stream, which are
to help:



build a skilled and capable Landcare community



e
ncourage community participation and engagement in Landcare



share information on sustainable agricultural techniques



reduce the spread of pest species



adopt improved sustainable land management practices.


Community Landcare Grants are intended to help loc
al community
-
based organisations, such as community groups
and professional farming systems groups take on
-
ground action and build their capacity and skills to manage the
natural environment and productive lands.



Applications from new and established gro
ups that have successfully delivered natural resource management
projects in the past are welcomed, as well as applications from new and established Indigenous and culturally and
linguistically diverse groups. Natural resource management projects that will

involve young people, Indigenous
Australians, women or people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are also welcomed.


In response to the strong feedback received through the consultation process, the upper threshold has been
increased
to $50 000 (GST exclusive). Applications must address the five
-
year outcomes of the Sustainable
Agriculture stream to enable community groups and organisations to contribute more effectively to the sustainable
management of Australia’s environment and prod
uctive lands and seas. Community groups can also apply for
funding to increase their skills and capacity, without the need for an associated biophysical target or outcome.



For further information on eligible activities and the eligibility criteria see th
e
Community Landcare Grants
guidelines
.


Regional Delivery

Regional natural resource management (NRM) organisations are key stakeholders for Caring for our Country and,
as such, regional delivery will remain a key focus of the initiative. The experience and ability of regional NRM
organisations to engage the local

community in planning, delivery and awareness raising activities that contribute
to achieving our shared goals, ensures the best results are achieved for both the community and the environment.


Allocated funding for regional NRM organisations will prov
ide support for:




delivery of Sustainable Agriculture stream outcomes consistent with priorities identified in regional natural
resource management plans



community support and engagement, including raising awareness of improved natural resource
management
practices, aligning industry best practice with regional natural resource management targets
and ensuring communication between local and regional NRM organisations, primary industry and the
Australian Government


To address community concerns about incons
istencies across the country, regional NRM organisations will be
expected to meet minimum governance standards from July 2013. These standards include benchmarks and
principles for:



investment planning and prioritisation



alignment with local and state
priorities and nationally agreed policies and strategies



stakeholder engagement in planning processes, including with farming and Indigenous stakeholders



monitoring and reporting organisational performance.


Strategic investments

The Australian Government

recognises that national leadership and investment is required to achieve health and
resilience for Australia’s landscapes, and to facilitate sustainable and productive use of our agricultural resources.


The Australian Government will invest in strategic

activities to create partnerships that leverage co
-
investment and
deliver extensive and significant outcomes that support the sustainable management of Australia’s natural
resources while also encouraging innovation.


Projects that address NRM issues tha
t are extensive in nature and facilitate innovative adoption of land
management practices may be considered as well as partnerships that promote policy and institutional reform that
encourages or supports more sustainable industries and supply chains.


Dri
ving the adoption of the improved management practices will ensure that Australian farmers remain
competitive and at the forefront of sustainable food production and innovative farming techniques. These practices
will also help sustain the agribusinesses t
hat underpin the Australian economy.


Innovation

Innovations can be completely new technology or practices, or incremental changes, such as the adaption or
application of existing technology or practices in a novel way, combination or region.



As innovat
ive projects are often higher risk and the benefits accrue through extension, higher levels of monitoring
and reporting and a greater focus on communication are required. Funding for innovation may include:



Projects that link research / proof of concept th
rough to adoption



Market, policy or institutional reforms



Trials and/or demonstrations of new or evolving technology complemented by extension



Innovative use of social media, podcasts or smart phone applications to communicate information to land
managers

and the NRM community that leads to practice change.


Reef Rescue

Reef Rescue is a highly successful and valued component of Caring for our Country. It is an excellent example of a
partnership between industry groups and regional NRM organisations. Key to its success is its collaborative design
and delivery. Reef Rescue
will continue to be funded in the second phase of Caring for our Country to:



facilitate increased adoption of land management practices that reduce run
-
off of nutrients, pesticides and
sediments from agricultural land



increase farm profitability



improve t
he health of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.


National surveillance framework for existing weeds

Funding for management of established weeds and pest animals through the Sustainable Agriculture stream will
move from majority on
-
ground control to a more stra
tegic approach that will include national surveillance and
coordination. The objective is to ensure managers are better informed about the location and control of best
management practices of controlling established weeds, including sleeper weeds and emerg
ing problem species.


Support will be provided for national cost
-
shared eradication programs under existing agreements, such as the
National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement, Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement and the
Emergency Plant
Pest Response Deed. This will ensure a strategic approach to prioritisation across a range of weed
and pest responses.


Landcare leadership and support

Funding will be provided to promote

Landcare to a broader Australian audience, reinforce links with the Landcare
movement and assist
information exchanges.



Activities could include:



raising awareness of Landcare achievements by promoting and reporting to the broader community on
opportuni
ties, developments, good practice and what is being delivered by Landcare across Australia
through regional papers, podcasts and social media



monitoring the health of the Landcare movement surveys and corresponding action



recognising the contributions of
volunteers, farmers and other land managers through national and state
Landcare conferences and awards that recognise and promote outstanding and innovative achievements



commissioning activities to promote the leadership skills and confidence of women, you
ng people,
Indigenous Australians and culturally diverse communities in agriculture.


Support will continue to be provided to the Australian Landcare Council, which provides advice to the Australian
Government on Landcare and matters concerning natural res
ource management and sustainable agriculture.
Support will also continue to be provided for the National Landcare Facilitator who provides insights into
opportunities to help promote partnerships that will strengthen Landcare.


The National Landcare Facil
itator has a
role

in leading and building the Regional Landcare Facilitator network to
ensure knowledge and information is shared across the network on new and best practices in sustainable
agriculture.


Regional Landcare Facilitators

Support will be provided for Regional Landcare Facilitators to promote the uptake of sustainable management
practices and assist community Landcare and professional farming system groups develop their skills, knowledge
and capacity to support and increase
knowledge of individual farmers and other land managers.


How progress will be
measured

The long
-
term 20
-
year projection is ‘an informed Australian community that supports, and is effectively and
actively engaged in activities to protect our environment a
nd sustainably manage our natural resources’.


In order to meet this projection, the first phase of Caring for our Country encouraged investment in national
leadership to achieve a healthy, sustainable, profitable, and productive environment.


Program perf
ormance in the first phase of Caring for our Country has been assessed using Monitoring, Evaluation,
Reporting and Improvement (MERI). The overarching MERI framework received widespread acceptance in the
review of Caring for our Country. MERI will be retai
ned for phase two to ensure consistency and continuity for
stakeholders already employing MERI.


MERI will continue to focus at the level of the five
-
year program outcomes that address the strategic objectives of
Caring for our Country. In response to the

feedback received, the Government has streamlined the project MERI
process, with simplified program logic requirements and reporting templates.


Establishing whether the investments have been effective in achieving the desired outcomes requires adequate
b
aseline data. Progress towards the five
-
year outcomes will be monitored through project reports and nationally
through a number of studies and surveys such as the biennial Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Agricultural
Resource Management Survey (ARMS
). This information will be complemented with relevant annual industry data.


The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website provides reports on
trends in management practices
for broadacre cropping, dairy, grazing and horticulture
.



Contact us


Caring for our Country

Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry

GPO Box 858

CANBERRA ACT 2601

Telephone: 1800 552 008

www.nrm.gov.au