Agriculture Stewardship Package

Budget 2021-22

The 2021-22 Budget has now been released, with measures related to the information on this page.

Find out more at www.awe.gov.au/budget.

About Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package

The 2021–22 Budget delivers $32.1 million in additional funding to continue to promote biodiversity stewardship. This investment builds on the Australian Government’s ongoing Agriculture Stewardship Package worth $34 million.

Australian agriculture depends on a biodiverse and well-managed natural resource base. Agricultural land managers play a key role in environmental management. They are responsible for managing 58% of our landmass.

The Agriculture Stewardship Package will help farmers improve on-farm land management practices. It will develop arrangements to reward farmers for protecting biodiversity and identify other sustainability opportunities.

Environmental markets and certification systems can reward farmers for protecting and improving biodiversity. They can diversify and boost farm income, providing alternative income sources to build resilience. The Australian Government previously committed $34 million over 4 years from 2018-19 to 2022-2023) to develop and trial these approaches.

The Australian National University is using a $3.4 million grant to design and develop the pilots in collaboration with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. This includes the rules for participating and processes for measuring, reporting and verifying environmental outcomes.

Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot  

The Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot will develop a market-based mechanism to reward farmers for increasing biodiversity.  

Farmers who undertake plantings for carbon can receive additional payments for maximising the biodiversity benefits from these plantings by:   

  • Planting a mix of species 
  • Managing and looking after that vegetation  

Plantings can also benefit farmers by providing shelter for animals, protecting dams and waterways and reducing erosion. 

Payment for biodiversity and other environmental services can supplement traditional farm income. 

The government is working with Professor Andrew Macintosh from The Australian National University to develop the program – watch the video below to listen as he explains what the pilot is and how it works.

 

​Document Pages File size
Transcript: Agriculture Stewardship Program – Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot DOCX  1 14 KB

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Find out more about our Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot.

Enhancing Remnant Vegetation Pilot  

The Enhancing Remnant Vegetation Pilot will be a scientifically robust on-ground trial that aims to improve significant existing native vegetation on farms. It will test biodiversity protocols developed by the Australian National University.

Successful farmers would receive payments to protect, manage and enhance high conservation value remnant native vegetation on-farm. Examples include: 

  • installing fencing 
  • carrying out weeding 
  • pest control and replanting. 

The Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme  

The voluntary Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme will allow Australian farmers to showcase best practice natural resource management to sustain and build biodiversity. Certification will enable consumers to identify Australian produce from farms that sustain our biodiversity and promote community recognition of farmers’ agricultural stewardship.  

Biodiversity certification could help improve the profitability of farm businesses by supporting access to markets, creating price premiums for their produce, lowering capital costs and giving farmers access to information about ways of improving land management practices.

To be certified, farmers will need to undertake specified land management practices and report on-farm biodiversity outcomes. Trials will begin as part of the Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot.  

The Biodiversity Trading Platform

The Biodiversity Trading Platform will enable farmers to connect with buyers of biodiversity outcomes and kick-start private sector biodiversity markets. The platform will integrate spatial information alongside buyer and seller information. This will allow verification, monitoring and reporting of biodiversity services, building transparency and credibility in the market.

A sustainability framework for Australian agriculture 

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) was provided $4 million towards development of an Australian Farm Certification Scheme. They commissioned a report by the Australian Farm Institute (AFI): Recognising On-farm Biodiversity Management

  • This included research into verification schemes, sustainability and best management practices, domestically and internationally, to determine their applicability in Australian agricultural systems.

The report found that that best results are likely to come from a framework that connects and verifies current and emerging programs, providing farmers with choice. 

Based on this work, the NFF is developing a framework or meta-standard for Australian agriculture sustainability. 

This will include: 

  • delivering a meta-standard for agriculture sustainability, including considering any legal, privacy or other (e.g. tax) implications in delivering the meta-standard or for industry / farmers to adopt the meta-standard 
  • working with agriculture-related organisations, such as rural research and development corporations, industry and private / not-for-profit companies, to verify current standards and connect them within a meta-standard 
  • identifying data needed to underpin the meta-standard, and addressing any gaps 
  • considering market opportunities, and how the meta-standard could be used by domestic consumers, export markets or financial institutions to deliver positive outcomes for farmers (price premiums, increased market access, favourable interest rates) 
  • engage with farmers, the broader industry and other relevant stakeholders on the costs and benefits of participation. 

The AFI report can be viewed at the National Farmers Federation website, a video summary of the report can be found at the Australian Farm Institute YouTube channel

Agriculture Biodiversity Policy Statement 

The policy statement will set out the role of Australian agriculture in protecting biodiversity. The statement will provide 

  • A national vision for on-farm biodiversity, that sets out the benefits for farmers, the broader community and the environment  
  • A shared understanding of best practice land management for biodiversity 
  • An overview of the approach to promoting and rewarding farmers’ environmental stewardship.  

This will be developed later in 2021, building on the learnings from the pilot programs.

Key partners are the Australian National University and National Farmers Federation

Enquiries about the package can be directed to agstewardship@awe.gov.au. You can also call us on 1800 329 055.

Download

​Document Pages File size
Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship - Package factsheet (May 2021 update) PDF  2 667 KB
Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship - Package factsheet (May 2021 update) DOCX  3 668 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, please visit web accessibility.

Last reviewed: 3 June 2021
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