A new $134 million Smart Farm program has been announced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Assistant Minister Hartsuyker. The landmark program comes under the National Landcare Program and looks to focus on protecting Australia’s natural resources of soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity by facilitating the development and adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices.
Minister Hartsuyker said the program supports the sharing of knowledge and achievements while promoting community leadership, which will help farmers boost productivity and better manage natural resources.
“There are three elements to the Smart Farms Program and each will focus on improving soil, vegetation and biodiversity condition and support agricultural systems to adapt to change,” Minister Hartsuyker said.
The announcement was welcomed by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Fiona Simson, who said the program is an important investment towards a more sustainable farm sector.
“This sort of investment helps further Australia’s global reputation as a source of safe and sustainable food and fibre,” Simson said. “The resources provided under the National Landcare Program, along with the investment made by industry and individual farmers, helps us not only talk the talk when it comes to sustainability – but also walk the walk.
“The program will provide opportunities for groups large and small to help farmers improve their sustainability. This includes small local grower groups, trial groups, sustainable farming practice groups, Landcare groups and larger industry organisations.”
The three elements to the Smart Farms Program are:
- Smart Farming Partnerships ($60 million over six years): Large multi-year grants for projects, with organisations working in partnership to develop, trial and implement new and innovative practices and tools that support uptake of sustainable agriculture practices across agricultural, fishing, aquaculture and farm forestry industries.
- Smart Farms Small Grants ($50 million over six years): Small grants program (grants between $5,000 and $100,000) to develop and extend new tools and technologies that help farmers, fishers, foresters and regional communities adopt best practice land management.
- Building Landcare Community and Capacity ($24 million over six years): to support the sharing of knowledge and achievements and community leadership in adopting sustainable agricultural practices.