The National NRM Regions’ Working Group (May 2013) agreed to establish a sustainable agriculture working group to advise on sustainable agriculture policy and program development issues relating natural resource management. The National Working Group recognised the renewed interest in sustainable agriculture at the national level being demonstrated through:

  • The draft National Food Plan recognising the importance of sustainable use of natural resources;
  • The National Farmers Federation release of its Blueprint for Australian Agriculture;
  • The efforts of a consortium, of extension providers to develop a National Extension Framework for Australian (NEFA).

The National Working Group recognises the central role of farmers to the sustainable management of our natural resources and the how directions in agriculture policy set the context for farmers’ operations. The extent to which NRM regional organisations are involved in delivering agriculture services varies across Australia and reflects the priorities of jurisdictional governments, but all regional NRM organisation work with farmers to deliver NRM outcomes.

The purpose of the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group will be to monitor national agriculture and food policies and identify and promote sustainable agriculture options that are consistent with regional NRM objectives. Specifically the Working Group will:

  • Identify sustainable agriculture opportunities for regional NRM bodies that are consistent with the role of regional NRM organisations, particularly with respect to the provision of ecosystem services and the role of regional bodies in assisting farmers in managing for and coping with extreme events;
  • Identify and promote sustainable agriculture policy options that support regional NRM organisations’ NRM objectives;
  • Monitor national agriculture and food policy developments and brief the National NRM Regions’ Working Group on developments;
  • Build strong partnerships with Rural Industry Research and Development Corporations, Regional Development Committees and others with a direct interest in Sustainable Agriculture;
  • Support the development of a national monitoring program that can identify progress with the sustainability of Australian agriculture;
  • Provide a point of contact for Australian Government agencies to engage with regional NRM organisations on sustainable agriculture policy and program development;
  • Provide a progress report to the annual National NRM Chairs’ Forum.