Article by: Hari Yellina
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud predicts that 2022 will be a year of fending against devastating biosecurity risks while seizing the opportunities that come with climate change adaptation. Mr Littleproud gave the keynote address at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) Outlook conference, which indicated that agribusiness is expected to generate a record $81 billion in revenue this year. “We are in a good spot in agriculture because of the seasons and commodity prices,” Mr Littleproud said, “but now is the time to implement the reforms and improvements that will develop Australian agriculture.” Biosecurity risks are one of the obstacles that “keeps me awake at night,” according to the Agriculture Minister. Many people have relocated around the world and are now “just on our doorstep.”
“We must modify our approach to managing and mitigating many of these dangers because they are new and changing,” he said. Mr Littleproud touted the government’s $1 billion investment in biosecurity over the last two budgets, which has resulted in more boots on the ground, 3D x-ray technology at airports, and shipping container tracking technology. “By the end of the decade, we’ll have gone from roughly 5 million containers to around 8.5 million containers,” Mr Littleproud said. “We’ll find out if a shipment sat in Africa for two years. It may have originated in Italy, where it poses no harm, but it was discovered in a paddock in Africa two years ago, posing a genuine and present threat to Australian agriculture.”
Mr. Littleproud has advocated climate adaption prospects through government initiatives that reward farmers financially while also providing them with premium market access. He pointed out that Australia was the first country to develop a mechanism for measuring biodiversity advances, which he said other countries were interested in adopting. “We are defining the rules for this around the world because we are leading the world on this,” Mr Littleproud said. Despite the tremendous prospects in the carbon space for agriculture, Mr Littleproud said the government was putting in place protections to protect productive land from passive investors.
Mr Littleproud and future Agriculture Ministers will be able to veto carbon schemes that take up more than one-third of a property through the Emission Reduction Fund. “That doesn’t mean they can’t own more than 33% of a property; it just means they have to keep producing agricultural products,” he explained. “They must be able to demonstrate that this ERF project, as well as the biodiversity payments they will receive, will benefit the regional communities that are supporting them.”