Far North Queensland farmers will eventually be able to receive financial incentives for managing the biodiversity on their farms.
Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said a $30 million pilot program would pay farmers for improving biodiversity on their farms, and in appropriate cases also for carbon.
He said $4 million would also be invested in an accreditation scheme to give farmers a biodiversity stamp which would be recognised nationally and internationally.
“Far North Queenslanders are extremely passionate about our local environment so it makes perfect sense for farmers to receive financial incentives for looking after biodiversity,” Mr Entsch said.
“Countless farmers across Far North Queensland are currently doing this for free and they deserve something for that.
“If you have fenced off bush on your property and you are not running crops or stock on it then you are doing something for our nation’s biodiversity and deserve financial reward.
“Farmers love nature and they are also running a business – these policies recognise both these realities.
“I will be strongly arguing for properties in our region to be included in this pilot trial.
Mr Entsch said the biodiversity accreditation stamp would give our FNQ farmers who are looking after the biodiversity on their farm a way to receive an extra dollar for it when they sell either here or overseas.
“We want this stamp recognised overseas – biodiversity is important in several overseas markets and we need to continue to be known for our clean, green produce,” he said.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said participating farmers would receive incentives for a range of projects to improve biodiversity on farms.
He said examples of this could include maintaining or enhancing remnant forest, regeneration of gullies or waterways, or mixed species native tree plantings.
“I have always thought farmers should be rewarded for the biodiversity on their properties and this could become a drought-proof income stream for them,” Mr Littleproud said.
“These programs will be trailed across different commodities and in different regions and if successful, I hope it will be expanded.
“An on-farm biodiversity policy and methodology will need to be developed and we’ll be consulting with Australian National University and farm groups on this.
“In the future we could potentially see farmers receiving payment for both biodiversity and carbon benefits from the same project.
“I am offering a carrot to farmers who look after biodiversity and absorb carbon, not additional and unnecessary regulation which is what Labor will introduce if elected.”