Improving linkages between on-farm productivity, market competitiveness and environmental and animal welfare management was the central theme of discussions between landholders, agri-business representatives, politicians and policy advisers at a recent forum at Roma, Queensland.
The Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Joel Fitzgibbon and the Chair of the National Landcare Advisory Committee Susan Middleton were keynote speakers at the Forum on 21st Century Landcare and Agricultural Competitiveness on 2 September 2015.
Mr Fitzgibbon called for measures to encourage and improve innovation in the sector, both on-farm and in support policies and programs.
“There is more we can do on the cost front but our clean, green and safe reputation and our human and natural resources are our great competitive advantages,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.ALMG Roma Forum Panel Members
“However these are not givens. We need robust traceability and verification systems and great biosecurity. Most of all we need innovative leaders, managers and workforces.”
Opened by Bruce Scott, Federal Member for Maranoa, the event was convened by the Australian Land Management Group (ALM Group) in conjunction with the Maranoa Regional Landcare Association (MRLA). Mr Scott is a long-term supporter of the work of the ALM Group and of regional Landcare organisations.
ALM Group CEO Tony Gleeson said such support validated the organisation’s leadership in promoting the need for policies and programs that enable rural producers to improve and verify their environmental and animal welfare credentials.
According to the founder of the ALM Group, Jock Douglas, this is a critical piece of the strategy to enable Australian farmers to not only produce more sustainably but to receive better access and higher margins in top-end markets throughout Asia and beyond.
MRLA Chair Trent Vincent said the purpose in convening the Forum was to beam light on the need for innovation not just on-farm but in government policies and programs affecting rural communities, Landcare and agricultural competitiveness. He said that in that vein the keynote address from Mr Fitzgibbon titled ‘Signposts for Agricultural and Rural Policy’ and Sue Middleton’s ‘Reinvigorating Landcare’ talk were of great interest.
The Forum also heard of a new ALMG initiative to monitor the value of landholders’ natural capital assets as a beneficial management tool.