Secure Food and Healthy Land
The Northern Rivers is a place like no other. With good rainfalls and fertile soil, we are positioned to lead the way in NSW as a food and fibre hub. The farming expertise and conditions in the area mean that our region is poised to lead the way in sustainable agriculture that respects the environment.
We know that as people who work outdoors every day, farmers know their environment - and it’s changing. Risks posed by water depletion, fossil fuel exploration, climate change, drought risks and urbanisation threaten to change farming around the state.
The climate has changed and will continue to change, with record-level temperatures and severe droughts affecting our region in recent years and causing distress to local farmers and communities. The government responded with a much-needed $500 million drought package for the Northern Rivers but, while welcome, it does nothing to address the root cause of the problem.
Unfortunately, the Liberal-National Coalition stopped looking after the farms of New South Wales a long time ago. They sold out family farms, prime farmland and our precious water resources to corporate agribusiness, big coal, big gas and rampant urban growth.
Successive governments have not invested in transitioning our vital agricultural sector to sustainable and regenerative food and fibre production. We are committed to working with farmers and communities, and pushing for farming across the state to change and innovate. Our vision for the Northern Rivers is a region that leads the way in adopting sustainable, conscious agriculture and permaculture that pays good money to farmers and produces well-paying, secure jobs for the community.
To see our detailed plan on Secure Food and Healthy land, click here.
Our plan will:
- Invest in our farms
- Establish regional food funds
- Protect prime agricultural land
- Secure the Northern Rivers from biosecurity threats
Investing in Sustainable Farming
The sustainability of farming systems and communities is essential for future food security and the integrity of the natural environment. But farming communities are currently facing some challenges including reduced profit margins, an ageing workforce, the impact of climate change, and the degradation of our food producing land.
The Greens believe that there is an important role for government to play in supporting young people to take up farming and in assisting farmers in undertaking conservation works to improve ecological outcomes on farms. The NSW Government should use its borrowing power at a time of historically unprecedented low bond rates to make low-interest loans available to meet these goals. Low-interest loans are a well-recognised mechanism for alleviating upfront financial costs and encouraging participation.
The Greens’ policy is for the establishment of a scheme which would make $120 million of low-interest loans available to assist young farmers and to establish conservation works.
Our plan will:
- Invest $60 million in low-interest loans for young farmers
- Invest $60 million in loans for conservation works
- Protect our region’s unique way of life and traditions
Promote Local Food
The Greens strongly support local food production and local farmers. We believe this has a wide range of benefits such as ensuring the sustainability and viability of local food production, making sure that people have access to healthy, affordable local produce for consumers, helping educate consumers about food production, and connecting food consumers with food producers.
The Fund will also create opportunities for young people to start farming through establishing markets and supporting growth. Other positive benefits include encouraging the conservation of areas of high ecological value in farming systems and low-emissions farming.
Our plan will:
- Establish grants for infrastructure and initiatives that connect farmers and local communities
- Create and support producer/farmer cooperatives
- Create and fit out local food hubs for packaging and value-adding local-food, with capacity for high volume and bulk supplies
Protect Prime Agriculture
The Greens believe that agriculture is essential to food security, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. We believe in healthy and sustainable agriculture which contributes to biodiverse native landscapes, clean water, and clean air and which is sensitive to First Nations heritage and cultural land use.
For the Northern Rivers, this means protecting environmentally sensitive land by introducing Local Land Services rate reductions for new conservation areas, ensuring a regional, catchment level approach to conservation and ecological integrity. We will also preserve agricultural land from incompatible development such as water mining, coal mining, gas fields and urban sprawl.
With temperatures predicted to rise and droughts becoming more and more common, we will assist in the transition of the agricultural sector to more sustainable crops that require less water, such as hemp and rice crops.
Our plan will:
- Protect environmentally sensitive land by introducing Local Land Services rate reductions for conservation
- Preserve agricultural land from incompatible development
- Assist in the transition to more sustainable crops
Secure Northern Rivers from Biosecurity Threats
We cannot take shortcuts when it comes to biosecurity. The costs to agriculture, our economy and to our environment are far too high to get it wrong when it comes to preventing and eradicating new pests, diseases and weeds in NSW.
Pest animals such as foxes, deer, wild dogs and pigs cost our agriculture sector about $720 million per year and are contributing to the decline of many native animals (in particular, bird and reptile species), including approximately 40% of NSW’s threatened species.
Environmental weeds are also having a devastating impact on NSW’s biodiversity. According to a 2014 study, weeds threaten at least 341 vulnerable and endangered species (40% of those listed in NSW in 2006) and 64 endangered ecological communities (89% of the total).
Our plan will:
- Establish a $5 million/year “High-Risk Incursion Fund.”
- introduce of a “State of Biosecurity” report every three years
- adopt a “permitted list” approach when it comes to the sale of plants