Sustainable Agriculture Policy

PRINCIPLES

1. The sustainability of agriculture and the long term productivity of farming systems depends on the health of underpinning ecological systems.

2. To become ecologically sustainable, food and fibre production must address land and water degradation and the loss of bio-diversity.

3. Climate change is having, and will increasingly have, major impacts on agricultural viability and productivity requiring urgent mitigation and adaptation.

4. Agriculture has an important role in climate change mitigation, with many opportunities to reduce and capture greenhouse gas emissions and to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources.

5. Farmers and land managers play a critical role in maintaining healthy landscapes and ecosystem services.

6. Urban and peri-urban agriculture are important components of sustainable and community food systems in Victoria.

7. Sustainable agriculture cannot be delivered without a skilled workforce and a Victorian population that understands and values our food systems.

8. Ongoing innovation, research, development and extension are essential to maintain and improve the sustainability and prosperity of Victorian agriculture.

9. 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.

10. Animal husbandry must respect animals' sentient natures.

AIMS

1. Assistance for farmers to implement sustainable agricultural systems 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.

2. To foster community-based decision making and empower and resource Victoria's rural communities to implement sustainable agricultural systems and address key challenges such as climate change and oil scarcity.

3. Support for initiatives that increase local product quality and nutrition, local value-adding and local distribution, fair prices for farmers, and the promotion of Victorian produce to the Australian community, including urban agricultural initiatives.

4. To develop and implement measures to eliminate waste in the entire food production system, including fuel, transport, packaging and consumption.

5. To incorporate teaching on sustainable agricultural and food systems including landscape management into school curricula for primary and secondary levels.

6. To improve the uptake of tertiary and vocational agricultural courses to increase Victoria's agricultural skill base and workforce retention.

7. Improve the participation in agriculture by women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other people who may face unfair barriers.

8. 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.

9. Protection of prime agricultural land, water and infrastructure from urban expansion, mining, inappropriate biofuel crops and other competing uses and encroachments.

10. Support for the development and use of biofuels which are derived from agricultural waste, or from biofuel crops grown to rehabilitate marginal and degraded land.

11. To ensure Victoria maintains and properly resources an effective biosecurity system, including the recognition of internal regional differences in pest and disease-free status, to protect Victorian agriculture and the environment that supports it from invasive species, pests and diseases.

12. 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.

13. To reinvigorate rural communities by providing programs that support young people wishing to become farmers or work in agricultural industries.

14. To ensure that drought assistance and other incentives for land managers encourage long term risk reduction strategies.

15. 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.

16. Conducting a comprehensive review of current regulations and codes of practice governing Animal Husbandry, and developing amendments as needed to protect animal welfare, public health and the environment.

17. The promotion of organic farming practices.

18. The development and adoption of practices that increase levels of soil carbon, both to enhance soil fertility and to contribute to the lowering of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

19. The strengthening and integration of programs to eradicate or control pests (including feral animals), diseases and weeds in accordance with the principles of ecological sustainability, reducing reliance on agri-chemicals.

20. The protection and management of remnant native vegetation and existing wildlife corridors.

21. The revegetation of riparian zones, degraded farmland and the re-establishment of wildlife corridors.

22. Farm diversification, which may include ‘mixed species’ farm forestry where this is zoned.

23. The protection of natural and agricultural ecosystems, public health and safety, and food and fibre markets from any negative impacts of new technologies and their products, including in particular, such impacts that may result from the release of any genetically manipulated (GM) organisms or nano-particles that are invasive or damaging into the environment or food supplies.

24. Re-establishing a state-wide moratorium on the commercial release of GM organisms until all marketing, environmental and public health issues are resolved.

25. Rebuilding the extension and advisory capacity of agricultural research institutes to provide ongoing support to farmers taking up sustainable farming practices and diversifying their farm production.

26. Strengthening the role of Catchment Management Authorities in the development and implementation of comprehensive strategic plans for sustainable land and water management.

27. Amending State Planning Provisions to establish clear objectives and criteria and mandated provisions for rural land use planning, natural resource protection and biodiversity conservation, including schedules of priority areas for biodiversity conservation with applicable land use restrictions.

28. Assisting in the establishment of Farmers' Markets and community food growing and marketing initiatives in urban and rural communities.

29. Changing the restrictions on farmers to allow them to sell their value added goods from the farm gate.

30. Establish an inter-departmental Ministerial Food and Agriculture Forum to integrate policy objectives around environmental sustainability and health with food production, processing, distribution and consumption, coupled with appropriate decision making powers.
 

Agriculture Policy as amended by State Council on 30th June 2018.