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Rural News

Farmers welcome farm biodiversity scheme

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NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News

Farmers welcome farm biodiversity scheme

Farmers for Climate Action (FCA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a national scheme paying farmers to improve biodiversity and protect remnant vegetation.

CEO Fiona Davis said a scheme of this kind was one of FCA’s key asks heading into the last election and noted that farmers and the environment both win from a biodiversity scheme with integrity.

Projects to plant native trees and shrubs will likely receive income for both carbon and biodiversity credits, greatly improving the financial feasibility of these activities.

“Farmers for Climate Action has been calling for a national farm biodiversity scheme and this is great news for farmers, the environment and our climate,” Dr Davis said.

“Payments for biodiversity and carbon can provide farmers with vital income during drought, which can help them continue to employ workers during tough times – and these projects absorb carbon and provide habitat for native wildlife.

“Paying farmers for the biodiversity in their remnant forest has the potential to greatly reduce Australia’s emissions by reducing land clearing. If a farmer is making money from the remnant forest on their land, they will be less likely to clear it. This approach uses a carrot, not a stick, and will protect vital habitat for our birds, reptiles, and animals.

“Paying farmers for planting native vegetation to boost biodiversity and absorb carbon also increases farm productivity, because animals grow more when they have shelter and shade, and because the native trees can create income for farmers on parts of their farm which were less profitable such as hillsides and creek banks.

“The foundation of any biodiversity market or scheme is integrity. We note current biodiversity pilots have had good integrity brought by world renowned ecologists and carbon experts at Australian National University, and a national scheme will need to have similar integrity.”

Dr Davis noted the announcement had bipartisan support, with Nationals Leader David Littleproud saying the scheme should be “implemented as soon as possible”. The previous government had commissioned a biodiversity market platform and begun two pilot schemes paying farmers for biodiversity: one paying for new native plantings and another for enhancing remnant vegetation.

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Local News

NSW Alternatives to Buybacks: A Modest Step Forward

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Alternatives to Buybacks Murray

NSW Alternatives to Buybacks: A Modest Step Forward

 

As the Murray-Darling Basin grapples with the imperative of fulfilling water recovery obligations, the recent unveiling of the NSW Alternative to Buybacks Plan offers a glimmer of progress. However, the fate of Basin farmers and communities’ hinges on governments’ commitment to fulfilling their end of the bargain.

The plan, though commendable, falls short of delivering substantial water-saving projects, with only a handful identified after languishing on the table for years. These projects, including the Murrumbidgee Irrigation and Coleambally Murrumbidgee Optimisation initiative, hold promise for water recovery and ecological revitalization. Yet, their efficacy relies heavily on the Commonwealth’s willingness to redefine criteria for water recovery.

According to Claire Miller, CEO of the NSW Irrigators’ Council, while certain proposals show potential, expeditious collaboration between NSW and federal departments is imperative to ensure timely implementation. Past bureaucratic inertia raises concerns about the feasibility of realising these initiatives within the stipulated timeframe, leaving Basin communities and farmers in a state of uncertainty regarding the Plan’s efficacy.

The prevailing narrative, characterised by finger-pointing between state and federal entities, exacerbates frustrations among stakeholders grappling with the prospect of buybacks overshadowing alternative solutions. The federal Water Minister’s apparent inclination towards prioritising buybacks further compounds anxieties, casting doubt on the Plan’s capacity to minimise such measures.

Alternatives to Buybacks Murray

Murray Darling Basin

Moreover, the NSW Plan underscores the practical challenges of achieving additional water recovery, even when disregarding socioeconomic considerations. With previous initiatives having exhausted readily available water-saving avenues, the efficacy of further buybacks remains dubious, as evidenced by shortfalls in existing programs like Bridging the Gap.

Most significantly, the imperative for additional water recovery is called into question by existing data revealing substantial reductions in diversions for various sectors. With only 28% of Basin inflows directed towards towns, industry, and irrigation, the focus must shift towards addressing underlying causes of river degradation, such as invasive species and poor policy frameworks.

In light of these realities, the allocation of billions of taxpayer dollars towards further water recovery raises pertinent questions about governmental priorities. Redirecting resources towards addressing systemic issues undermining river health may prove more efficacious in fostering sustainable ecological restoration.

In essence, while the NSW Alternative to Buybacks Plan represents a step towards addressing water recovery challenges, its efficacy hinges on collaborative action and a recalibration of governmental priorities towards holistic river management strategies. Only through concerted efforts to address underlying drivers of degradation can the Basin realise its full ecological potential and safeguard the livelihoods of its communities.

 

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Local News

Australia’s Dairy Excellence: Winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show Announced

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Winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show

Australia’s Dairy Excellence: Winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show Announced

 

Australia’s dairy industry reached new heights of recognition as the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) unveiled the champions of its esteemed Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show. Held at a captivating cocktail function within the Sydney Showground, the event showcased the finest dairy products from across the country.

With over 530 entries vying for top honours, the competition brought together renowned industry judges to evaluate an impressive array of submissions. Remarkably, 89% of the exhibits received either a bronze, silver, or gold medal, underscoring the exceptional quality of Australia’s dairy offerings.

Among the standout winners was Bega’s Rindless Vintage Cheese, which claimed multiple accolades including Champion Cheese and Champion Cheddar Cheese, earning a coveted spot on the Australian Cheeseboard. In the milk category, Lactalis Australia’s Pauls Farmhouse Gold emerged victorious, while Gelateria Gondola’s Nocciola Piemonte and Cow and Moon’s Madagascan Vanilla Bean stole the spotlight in the ice cream and gelato divisions.

Chair of Judges, Tiffany Beer, commended the outstanding calibre of entries in this year’s competition, attributing the success to the industry’s commitment to excellence and continuous improvement in production techniques. Particularly noteworthy was the substantial increase in entries for the Research and Development class, reflecting the industry’s innovation and dedication to delivering cutting-edge products.

Beer also highlighted the impressive performance of non-bovine products, with Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese’s Riverine Blue receiving acclaim as the champion non-bovine product, showcasing Australia’s capacity to produce world-class dairy alternatives.

Representing a true national effort, entries from across all Australian states contributed to the show’s success, with New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania demonstrating exceptional medal strike rates. The winners were commended for their contributions to advancing the Australian dairy industry and encouraged to continue their pursuit of excellence.

In a testament to the industry’s generosity, all remaining samples from the show were donated to the Addi Road Food Pantry in Marrickville, underscoring the commitment to giving back to the local community.

The winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show exemplify the pinnacle of dairy excellence in Australia, setting the standard for quality and innovation in the industry.

Winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show

Winners of the 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Show

Full list of 2024 Sydney Royal Cheese and Dairy Produce Champions:

  • Champion Butter
    CopperTree Farms Cultured Salted Butter
  • Champion White Milk
    Pauls Farmhouse Gold, produced by Lactalis Australia
  • Champion Flavoured Milk
    Sharma’s Kitchen Milk Badam
  • Champion Cheddar Cheese
    Bega Cheese Rindless Vintage
  • Champion Specialty Cheese
    Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese Oak Blue
  • Champion Cow Milk Cheese
    Bega Cheese Rindless Vintage
  • Champion Cheese of Show
    Bega Cheese Rindless Vintage
  • Australian Cheeseboard 
    • Bega Cheese Rindless Vintage
    • Lactalis Jindi President’s Camembert
    • Bruny Island Cheese Co. C2
    • Pecora Dairy Bloomy
    • Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese Riverine Blue
  • Champion Full Cream Ice Cream or Gelato
    Gelateria Gondola Nocciola Piemonte
  • Champion Low/Reduced Fat Ice Cream or Gelato
    Cow and the Moon Madagascan Vanilla Bean
  • Champion Novel Ice Cream or Gelato
    Bulla Dairy Foods Creamy Classic Honeycomb Stick
  • Champion Yoghurt or Cultured Milk Product
    Gippsland Dairy Lemon Curd Twist Yogurt, produced by Chobani Australia
  • Champion Cream
    Mungalli Creek Dairy Biodynamic Pouring Cream Organic
  • Champion Sheep, Goat, Buffalo or Camel Milk Product
    Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese Riverine Blue

 

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Local News

RIC hosting free online Drought Loan webinar

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RIC will host a free online Drought Loam webinar on Wednesday, 28 February 2024.

RIC hosting free online Drought Loan webinar

 

Australian Government farm business lender, RIC (Regional Investment Corporation) will host a free online webinar on Wednesday, 28 February 2024 for farmers, financial advisers, business planners and rural counsellors who are interested in learning more about how a low-interest RIC Drought Loan may be able to help prepare for, manage through or recover from drought.

As part of the online forum, RIC customer Tim Webb from Forbes, NSW will share experiences about how he and his wife, Jenny, used their Drought Loan to strengthen their farm business.

RIC Chief Executive Officer John Howard said farmers may be eligible to apply for a Drought Loan even if they are not currently in drought because the loan can also be used for activities that will reduce risk and prepare for drought.

“Whether farmers are currently in drought or between cycles, drought is never too far from their minds so knowing what financial options are available can make a difference to how quickly and effectively they manage through and recover,” Mr Howard said.

“Many farmers would be interested to know RIC’s Drought Loan is available for drought preparation activities like increasing water storage or improving water efficiency. This means even if farmers are not currently in drought but want to improve their drought resilience, they may be eligible if they have had a significant financial impact outside their control within the past 5 years.

RIC will host a free online Drought Loam webinar on Wednesday, 28 February 2024.

RIC will host a free online Drought Loam webinar on Wednesday, 28 February 2024.

“RIC loans can help to refinance or restructure existing farm debt to improve cash flow and provide access to new funding for operating expenses and capital expenditure,” he said.

Merino producer, Tim Webb is pleased to be available to help other farmers learn more about RIC loans. He will explain how a low-interest RIC loan helped his business to refinance part of their existing commercial debt during the last drought.

The Webbs were able to use the money they saved in interest payments to buy in grain to keep their breeding stock fed and their business running in preparation for retirement.

“The RIC loan kept us going through the drought and the interest pressures at the time,” Tim said.

“We’ve since been able to repay a big chunk of our debt, which has put us in a strong position as we approach succession planning and retirement – it’s been a game changer.”

To register for the free online RIC Drought Loan webinar, visit here. The webinar will be held on Wednesday 28 February 2024 from 12:00 – 1:00pm AEDT. If webinar participants are not able to attend on the day, a recording will be emailed after the event if they register in advance. For more on the RIC Drought Loan, please visit here.

 

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