9 May 2023

Federal Budget funds Haines’ climate-smart farmers plan

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has celebrated funding for extension services to support farmers to adopt climate-smart agriculture practices in Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

On Tuesday night, the Federal Budget announced investment of $302.1 million over 5 years into the Natural Heritage Trust towards developing a climate-smart and sustainable agriculture sector. This includes:

  • $76.4 million to establish a network of Sustainable Agricultural Facilitators to provide extension services to accelerate the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices;
  • $158.6 million for projects to strengthen agricultural productivity and sustainability, accelerate emissions reduction and preserve on-farm natural capital; and
  • $30.6 million to support farmers to improve soil health and natural resources.

The network of Sustainable Agricultural Facilitators replicates the proposal for neutral, trusted agricultural extension officers that Dr Haines has been advocating for since before the last election.

“This is a win for the agricultural sector. Farmers want to take action on climate and improve their practices but they need support to know exactly what to do and how to do it,” Dr Haines said.

“The agricultural sector is responsible for 16% of Australia’s national emissions, and is facing trade sanctions if it doesn’t act to reduce these soon.

“This initiative will help farmers improve their practices and have a direct economic impact.”

An extension officer program is also critical for ensuring farmers know when, and how, to participate in the emerging carbon and biodiversity credit markets.

“Extension officers have historically guided farmers during times of change, and it is about time the Government has come to the table to modernise their role for the agricultural sector of the future,” Dr Haines said.

“I have been developing this policy for months, including by moving a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to act on agriculture and climate, and in my budget submission to the Treasury in January.

“I have had many conversations with Agriculture Minister Murray Watt and I am glad he has worked with me so constructively.

“I’m pleased the Government has backed my policy in this budget. I want to thank the organisations that have fought for this alongside me, including the National Farmers Federation, Farmers for Climate Action and local Indi farmers.”

Dr Haines said she will now watch closely on how the Government consults with the agricultural sector and organisations like Landcare to ensure the funding effectively delivers benefits to the agricultural sector’s productivity and profitability.

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