Agriculture and Rural Land Use

Preamble

First Nations people sustainably managed this land for some 80,000 years through complex agricultural practices, culture, peace and deep connection to country. 

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear that climate change demands rapid and radical reforms in agriculture and land use.

This policy draws on the principles of Regenerative Agriculture and Agroecology. It will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and remove significant amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and at the same time improve long term productivity and food security, protect ecosystems, and build more resilient communities.

Principles

The Greens NSW believe:

1. An environmentally sustainable system of agriculture is essential to food security, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation;

2. Rural land use, including the production of food, fibre, energy and medicinals, should contribute to biodiverse native landscapes, and be sensitive to the heritage and cultural land use of First Nations peoples;

3. The knowledge, innovations and practices of First Nations peoples should inform, where appropriate, planning and management in the conservation of nature;

4. Sustainable farming systems apply ecological principles to the design and management of resilient, biodiverse and productive agricultural systems, with a positive impact on the health and well-being of the farming and wider community;

5. Government policy should not undermine the right of present or future generations to sustainable food and fibre production;

6. Healthy rural communities and well-resourced farmers, farm workers and land managers play a critical role in maintaining healthy landscapes and ecosystems;

7. Urban and peri-urban agriculture is an important component of sustainable and community food systems in NSW;

8. Australia's productive agricultural land and water supplies are vital national assets which must be protected from environmentally unsustainable uses;

9. A climate change adaptive agriculture sector requires a suitably skilled workforce and an ecologically literate population;

10. Ongoing innovation, research, development and education are essential to maintain and improve the sustainability and prosperity of Australian agriculture and ecosystems and to mitigate climate change;

11. Managers must ensure the physical and psychological wellbeing of animals in their care;

12. The spread of invasive pests, diseases and weeds is a significant threat to ecological integrity and agricultural productivity;

13. Genetic diversity both within ecosystems and agricultural systems is essential for the health and resilience of these systems; and

14. The distance between where food is grown, processed and consumed should be minimised.

Aims

The Greens NSW will work towards:

15. The identification of productive agricultural land and its protection from extractive industries and urban encroachment;

16. Assistance to primary producers to enable them to adopt land management practices that are adaptive to climate change, and to rapidly phase out damaging practices, including:

  1. intensive grazing;
  2. over-use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics; and
  3. the cultivation of water intensive crops in areas that are already water stressed;

17. Effective biosecurity and management systems, including biological control and integrated pest management systems, that protect agriculture and the environment from pests, weeds and diseases and that minimise use of chemicals;

18. The development of updated standards for the licensing and use of agricultural chemicals equal to or higher than the most rigorous standards elsewhere in the world, and the enforcement of these standards;

19. The gradual phasing out of synthetic fertilisers as Regenerative Agriculture practices are adopted, and the phasing in of a range of solutions that largely eliminate the need for nitrogen fertilisers, including use of native nitrogen fixing species, and crop rotation;

20. The protection of urban and peri-urban agricultural areas from encroachment and the encouragement of agricultural production in these areas;

21. The expansion of agriculture into appropriate land, along with:

  1. research into, and adoption of, resilient native species that can be productively grown in areas not suited to traditional exotic agricultural species;
  2. the protection of land that is unsuitable for farming or of significant ecological or cultural value, and adequate compensation of land-holders for this protection;
  3. the restoration of degraded lands and habitats as carbon sinks wherever possible;

22. Investment in agricultural education and training at all levels;

23. Implementation of strategies to improve the management of our soil resource and the conversion of deficient or degraded soil to healthy topsoil through the principles of Regenerative Agriculture;

24. Support of small-scale and diversified farming operations that demonstrate adaptivity and resilience;

25. Support of land managers in the implementation of low-carbon-intensive farming techniques and in the sequestration of carbon in soils and vegetation.

26. The protection of Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs) and Travelling Stock Reserves;

27. The use of a bushfire risk management that is species sensitive, well-resourced and, wherever possible, employs the fire-management practices of First Nations peoples, such as cool-burns;

28. Retention, protection and restoration of native vegetation across all land tenures to maintain biodiversity, link reserves and create new habitat;

29. Improvement in efficiency of water use in our agricultural systems, including:

  1. Protection of riparian zones from uncontrolled stock access, clearing for agriculture, overuse by recreational activities and invasive weeds and pests;
  2. Reduction of herd size, where appropriate;
  3. Use of appropriate fencing;
  4. Provision of alternative water supplies; and
  5. Use of vegetated buffers as part of good riparian zone management;

30. The development and implementation of an effective framework to reward farmers, land managers, and communities for the repair and maintenance of ecosystems, including:

  1. financial incentives;
  2. pricing mechanisms;
  3. education services; and
  4. regulation;

31. Ample funding to organisations and programs involved in the restoration, maintenance and protection of lands with high conservation value;

32. Initiatives that increase local production, value-adding, distribution, fair prices for farmers and fair wages for farm workers;

33. A ban on broad-scale clearing of native vegetation, and the protection and restoration of native vegetation and biodiversity;

34. Support for the genetic diversity of production species, protection from GM contamination, and a ban on the privatisation of genetic material;

35. Action on the national target to halve food waste by 2030, without damaging the ability of people to access adequate sustenance, with minimisation of waste across the entire food production system, including production, transport, packaging and consumption;

36. Making drought assistance and other incentives available to land managers, in order to drive long-term risk-reduction strategies, including environmental restoration and adaptation to likely climate change impacts;

37. Funding research, development and education to support sustainable agricultural systems, healthy landscapes and resilient rural and regional communities;

38. Development and adoption of enforceable codes of practice in animal welfare including:

  1. good housing conditions;
  2. species appropriate habitat;
  3. cleanliness, and
  4. responsible use of antibiotics as medical treatment;

39. Removal of inappropriate barriers to the consumption of natural foods, including hemp products, especially where such foods are grown in a regenerative system;

40. An increase in the production of certified organic produce to meet increasing demand locally and in the export market, and its protection from contamination from GM crops;

41. More extensive monitoring, reporting and recognition of all emissions related to land use and incentives to regenerative farmers to sequester carbon;

42. Supporting a transition away from the use of harmful chemical additives and industrial scale practices in food, fibre and medicinal production by 2040, with farms being properly supported to transition away from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers that destroy soil microbes, pollute waterways, emit greenhouse gases, and adversely affect both human and animal health;

43. Greater emphasis on ecological literacy in all STEM programmes;

44. Public funding to support the teaching of Regenerative Agriculture wherever agriculture is taught in New South Wales, including at TAFE, and in mentoring programs;

45. Tree intercropping to bolster resilience by increasing the density of flora and fauna, and increasing longer term profitability;

46. Managed techniques for improving soil health, carbon sequestration and forage productivity;

47. Policy initiatives that mitigate climate change impacts and increase public investment in climate change related research and development.

48. Public funding for research and development towards resilient, biodiverse and productive agricultural systems that have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the farming and wider community, without compromising the needs of future generations;

49. Trade policies that benefit ecologically sound rural land use practices.

50. Rehabilitation of overgrazed landscapes and conversion of marginal farmlands, to bolster climate change mitigation and restore ecosystems;

51. Funding for ongoing public education on the benefits of native foods, including native alternatives for protein;

52. Onshore wind farms and solar farms, wherever they can coexist with farming, grazing, and conservation, supplying low carbon renewable energy, along with additional income streams for farmers, grazers and other landholders;

53. The adoption of True Cost Accounting as indispensable to climate change mitigation and intergenerational equity;

54. Wage and social protection policies that progressively achieve better working and living conditions for agricultural workers in New South Wales, including fair payment, no forced labour, good working conditions, and transparency and accountability, for citizens, permanent residents, and visa holders alike;

55. Support for formation and development of producer co-ops and processing facilities closer to the point of production, to ensure both better treatment of primary producers and of products.