March 27, 2013
Sustainable food production and on-farm innovation are among the key aims of the next phase of the federal government’s Caring for our Country program released this week. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig released the Caring for our Country Sustainable Agriculture Strategic Directions document on Tuesday while in Western Australia. Minister Ludwig was visiting a grape grower in Belhus in the Swan Valley who received funds under the first phase of Caring for our Country. The funds were directed toward improving nutrient management and irrigation efficiencies, fostering an understanding of fertiliser use and leaching into the Swan River by landholders in the Perth region. Minister Ludwig said Caring for our Country was a flagship program that was delivering benefits to rural communities. “I’m pleased to release the aims and directions of the new Caring for our Country Sustainable Agriculture Stream, which will help stakeholders and grant applicants benefit from the next phase of Caring for our Country,” he said. He said the next phase of the program would not only help farmers and land managers but also community groups, regional natural resource management groups, Indigenous groups and industry bodies to undertake key natural resource management projects which make important contributions to sustainable farm and fisheries practices. The strategic aims of the program also include reducing the impact of weeds and pests on agriculture and improving management of agriculture and fisheries. Fostering a skilled and capable Landcare community is another of its aims. “This is part of the government’s 20-year vision for the future of agriculture where Australia’s agricultural lands support and maintain clean water, biodiversity and healthy soils, while continuously improving food and fibre productivity,” Minister Ludwig said. Work is progressing on the second phase of Caring for our Country and further information on the program including grants rounds, funding allocations for regional delivery and regional Landcare facilitators will be announced shortly.