Sustainable agriculture is fundamental to supporting rural communities, which are a vital part of Australian society, and to ensuring a healthy, sustainable, secure and fair food system.
The Australian Greens believe that:
- Sustainable agriculture is fundamental to food security, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- The implementation of sustainable farming systems is essential for maintaining healthy, productive landscapes and addressing the grave threats of land, soil and water degradation, and climate change. Sustainable farming systems are those that apply ecological concepts to the management of agriculture – often called agro-ecology.
- Sustainable agriculture cannot be delivered without thriving, resilient rural communities, and farmers and land managers who play a critical role in maintaining healthy landscapes and ecosystem services.
- Urban and peri-urban agriculture are important components of sustainable and community food systems in Australia.
- As the most arid inhabited continent with fragile ancient soils, Australia's prime agricultural land and water supplies are vital national assets which must be protected from competing and unsustainable uses.
- Land use policy must prioritise the protection of prime agricultural land, water and infrastructure from urban expansion, mining, hydrocarbon extraction, inappropriate biofuel crops and other competing uses and encroachments.
- Sustainable agriculture cannot be delivered without a skilled workforce and an Australian population that understands and values our food systems.
- Ongoing innovation, research, development and extension are essential to maintain and improve the sustainability and prosperity of Australian agriculture.
- The Precautionary Principle, as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity, must be applied to all new agricultural technologies and the use of their products in the environment.
- Australia's trade policy, including free trade agreements, must not compromise domestic and international food security or food sovereignty.
- Consistent with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property and share in profits for the use of native plants.
- Methane emission from livestock is a major source of greenhouse gas, contributing to global warming and climate change, and need to be reduced.
- Labelling of food products should be truthful and comprehensive.
The Australian Greens want:
- A national strategic plan for sustainable agriculture to deliver adequate, safe and nutritious food for all Australians; ensure the well-being of our agricultural communities; a skilled and supported workforce; provisions to adapt to and mitigate the challenges of climate change; and the health and maintenance of the soil and ecosystems that underpin our food and fibre production.
- Assistance for farmers to implement sustainable agricultural systems and practices that repair, maintain and improve soil health including carbon storage, water quality, water use efficiency and biodiversity, modelled on natural systems at the landscape scale.
- To assist farmers to minimise or eliminate the use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers.
- To foster community-based decision making and empower and resource Australia’s rural communities to implement sustainable agricultural systems and address climate change and soil and water degradation.
- Support for initiatives that increase local product quality and nutrition, local value-adding and local distribution, fair prices for farmers, and the promotion of Australian produce to the Australian community, including urban agricultural initiatives.
- To develop and implement measures to eliminate waste in the entire food production system, including fuel, transport, packaging and consumption.
- To incorporate sustainable agricultural and food systems including landscape management into the national curriculum for primary and secondary levels.
- To improve the uptake of tertiary and vocational agricultural courses to increase Australia's agricultural skill base and workforce retention.
- To develop and implement an effective framework — including financial incentives, pricing mechanisms, extension services and regulation — to ensure that farmers and land managers are rewarded for the repair and maintenance of ecosystem services.
- To strengthen and increase research, development and extension to support sustainable agricultural systems, healthy landscapes and resilient rural and regional communities.
- To ensure that Australia's regulation of irrigation water, including groundwater extraction, delivers resource security, maximum water use efficiency and environmental sustainability, including the protection of critical ecosystems such as wetlands and base stream flows.
- To end broad-scale native vegetation clearing and to restore native vegetation and biodiversity.
- To ensure Australia maintains and properly resources an effective biosecurity system, including the recognition of internal regional differences in pest and disease-free status, to protect Australian agriculture and the environment that supports it from invasive species, pests and diseases.
- Reform of competition policy to address the unacceptable level of concentrated ownership in Australia's food production, distribution and sales systems that undermine sustainable agriculture and rural and regional communities.
- The reorientation of Australia’s approach to international food trade to ensure it does not undermine food security or sovereignty domestically or internationally, compromise our biosecurity, or undermine the prosperity and sustainability of farming systems and communities.
- To encourage the sustainable and appropriate use of local native plants for food and fibre to reduce land degradation, greenhouse emissions and increase their protection.
- To assist the reinvigoration of rural communities by providing programs that support young people wishing to become farmers or work in agricultural industries.
- To ensure that drought assistance and other incentives for land managers encourage long-term risk reduction strategies.
- The adoption of enforceable codes of conduct in animal welfare by all sectors of the livestock production industries, and adequate funding of the authorities responsible for monitoring of these activities.
- To ensure that the Foreign Investment Review Board rigorously regulates, monitors and reports on all foreign acquisition and ownership of agricultural land, to ensure that it does not impact negatively on Australian agriculture and food security.
- Appropriate mechanisms and processes to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are included in decision making in regards to the development of land.
- Ongoing and new research into the mitigation of methane emissions from livestock in Australia, in particular through the avenues of animal health and nutrition, selection and genetics, suited to Australia’s distinctive climate and ecosystems.
- Increased incentives for meat and dairy producers to implement methane reduction methods.
- To promote comprehensive locality of origin labelling for all foods.
[Policy endorsed: May 2018]