Farmers around the State will be supported to adopt additional sustainable practices through a groundbreaking $206 million program delivered in the NSW Budget.
Treasurer Matt Kean said this landmark investment will reward farmers who voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions and protect biodiversity.
“This is great news for farmers and the environment. This funding will help improve biodiversity and lower emissions across NSW, and our farmers will receive tangible benefits for sustainable land management practices,” Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean said NSW has an early mover advantage to secure a leading position in the emerging global marketplace for low carbon food and fibre from producers who are also improving our biodiversity.
“This new era of natural capital could unlock up to $10 billion of ‘Environment, Social and Governance’ financing in Australia,” Mr Kean said.
“Natural capital will reduce farmers’ risks from climate change and biodiversity loss while improving long-term farm productivity.”
Minister for Environment James Griffin said the Sustainable Farming Program will help to shore up the long-term health of the environment and the agricultural sector.
“This $206 million new program is completely voluntary. We’re proposing to develop an accreditation scheme for farmers who manage their land for biodiversity and carbon, while enhancing their productivity,” Mr Griffin said.
“Just as we know what the Forestry Stewardship Council certification system represents, this is about developing an easily recognisable accreditation for sustainable farms.
“We know that investors and consumers are increasingly looking for sustainably produced products, and this program will support our producers to meet that demand.”
Many farmers are already undertaking sustainable practices as part of their day to day operations and this program represents an opportunity for diversified income, with the program offering farmers payments to secure and maintain accreditation.
In turn, the accreditation has potential to increase their market access globally, helping farmers sell their products at a premium and access emerging environmental markets. The accreditation will not impact existing accreditation schemes such as those used to access the European beef markets.
Accreditation could be achieved by actions such as restoring habitat, fencing for dam and riparian areas, rotating crops, and using best-practice feed and fertiliser practices.
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the program will be developed in close consultation with farmers and landowners.
“The NSW Government will work with farmers and landholders on options to tap into the emerging natural capital market,” Mr Saunders said.
“Farmers in NSW are already natural capital specialists and should be rewarded for the productive and environmental outcomes they generate.
“This announcement will give farmers and other landholders more options to diversify their income while maintaining ultimate decision making power on how to sustainably and productively manage their property.”
Farmers will receive a payment for reaching milestones on agreed sustainable practices under an accreditation framework.
The accreditation program will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and complements existing private land conservation programs offered by the NSW Government.
Learn more: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/sustainable-farming