The future of the National Landcare Program
By Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker
The Australian Government is investing more than $1 billion into the future of the National Landcare Program (NLP). In September, the Coalition Government launched the next phase of the NLP, and mapped out the nationally-agreed priorities for delivering on-ground natural resource management and sustainable agriculture outcomes that will benefit rural communities and deliver environmental and agricultural outcomes.
Protecting and improving the condition of our natural resources, soils, water and biodiversity—is a never-ending goal, which requires long-term, on-the-ground planning, investment and delivery. The NLP has been structured to achieve this through building knowledge and engaging the community and industry in projects to improve those land management practices needed to benefit the condition of these natural resources and farm production.
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Luke Hartsuyker.
The Australian Government is significantly contributing to this effort through the NLP and is a national leader in the cause to protect soils, water and biodiversity in our farms, communities and environments.
Key programs in the $1 billion dollar NLP investment include the $450 million Regional Land Partnerships Program and the $134 million Smart Farms Program. These programs were developed in consultation with Landcare groups and the Australian community.
The Smart Farms program will protect and improve the condition of natural resources on farms, which in turn drives improved productivity and profitability. ‘Farming smarter’ is the mantra for the next round of Landcare projects—helping organisations and individuals to put their heads together to develop innovative sustainable agriculture practices.
The $134 million Smart Farms program will encourage farmers, fishers and foresters to adopt sustainable agricultural best practices. Giving farmers, fishers, foresters and regional communities the tools, technologies and funding will allow them to invest in their soils, water and biodiversity.
Farmers have a natural instinct to care for their land and we want to support these ideas that have been put to the test on a local farm by helping our smart farmers to share that idea with the local community and the nation.
The Smart Farms Program is made up of three components: the $60 million Smart Farming Partnerships, the $50 million Smart Farm Small Grants and the $24 million Building Landcare Community and Capacity Program.
Calls for the first round of grant applications under the Smart Farms Small Grants and Smart Farming Partnerships were announced in October 2017.
More information on the programs and how to apply is available at www.nrm.gov.au. I encourage you all to continue your involvement in Landcare through the Smart Farms program which will put Australian farming at the forefront of land resource management into the future.
Regional Land Partnerships
From July 2018, the Australian Government will invest $450 million over five years to deliver the national priorities of protecting soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity and supporting agriculture productivity at the regional and local level.
The Regional Land Partnerships Program builds on the strengths of the existing program, with national coverage that will connect and involve communities, including Indigenous communities. We want to fund the most innovative projects that tackle today’s challenges and harness the next generation of ideas.
There is great awareness about the Landcare movement and the benefits it brings to communities across Australia. Through our consultations and reviews one thing that has come to the fore is the strong support for continuing to deliver the NLP through a regional model. Local Landcare groups have local know-how and we want to continue to tap into that local environmental and land management knowledge.
There will of course be refinements to make sure we meet the needs of landholders, volunteers and communities across Australia’s diverse farming communities.
Landcare across the country continues to play a critical role in helping to improve farming practices and land management. The NLP has seen an increase in uptake of sustainable practices, with an estimated area of more than 9.5 million hectares of land being sustainably managed to improve natural resources with corresponding environmental, agricultural productivity and social outcomes.
The next six years of Landcare will be exciting as we look to take advantage of technological advances in land management and seek to continue to do what comes naturally to all of us—taking care of the land.
I look forward to continuing to work with Landcare communities across Australia, research organisations and farmers to deliver these new Australian Government investments that will ensure Landcare delivers real, tangible benefits for all of Australia, ensuring we have healthy and productive farms into the future.