Early in 2020 the Australian Farm Institute undertook a research project on behalf of the National Farmer’s Federation for Phase 1 of the Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Scheme, which is a component of the Australian Government’s $34 million Agricultural Stewardship package.
This project reviewed best practice management standards and collated extensive feedback from stakeholders with skin in the game to address the value proposition and potential barriers for adoption of a scheme within farming and NRM communities. More than 500 individuals contributed their thoughts, opinions and expertise to the project. Information gathered in the desk review and consultation was analysed to determine key criteria for success, which in turn have informed recommendations for development of a farm biodiversity certification or verification scheme trial.
During the consultation for this report, farmers identified the complexity, cost and difficulty of assessing and participating in multiple programs, as barriers to participating in current stewardship programs, including market-based initiatives.
The report found that best results are likely to come from an overarching framework that connects and verifies current and emerging programs and provides farmers with choice. This framework will provide a pathway to assuring market access, demonstrating robustness of verification and measurement tools, and supporting the further diversification of economic opportunities for farmers.
The NFF is now focussed on developing a framework or meta-standard for Australian agriculture sustainability.