Farmers in the Goulburn region will be supported to adopt additional sustainable practices through a groundbreaking $206 million program delivered in the NSW Budget.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said this landmark investment will reward farmers who voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions and protect biodiversity.

“This funding is a win for farmers, the environment, and regional economies,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

“The program will offer farmers payment for reaching milestones on agreed sustainable practices under an accreditation framework.

“In turn, the accreditation has potential to increase their market access globally, helping farmers sell their products at a premium and access emerging environmental markets.”

Accreditation could be achieved by actions such as restoring habitat, fencing for dam and riparian areas, rotating crops, and using best-practice feed and fertiliser practices.  

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the Sustainable Farming Program will help to shore up the long-term health of the environment and the agricultural sector.

“The $206 million Sustainable Farming Program is completely voluntary. We’re developing an accreditation for farmers who manage their land for biodiversity and carbon, while enhancing their productivity,” Mr Griffin said.

“Just as we know what the Forestry Stewardship Council certification system represents, this is about developing an easily recognisable accreditation for sustainable farms.

“We know that investors and consumers are increasingly looking for sustainably produced products, and this program will support our producers to meet that demand.”

Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Dugald Saunders said the program will be developed in close consultation with farmers and landowners.

“The NSW Government will work with farmers and landholders on options to tap into the emerging natural capital market,” Mr Saunders said.

“Farmers in NSW are already natural capital specialists and should be rewarded for the productive and environmental outcomes they generate.

“This announcement will give farmers and other landholders more options to diversify their income while maintaining ultimate decision making power on how to sustainably and productively manage their property.”

The accreditation program will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and complements existing private land conservation programs offered by the NSW Government.

It will not impact existing accreditation schemes such as those used to access the European beef markets.