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Edi Australian red meat and the environment – sustainable agriculture

As custodians of nearly 50 per cent of Australia’s land mass, the Australian red meat and livestock industry recognises its responsibility to agricultural sustainability – sustainably managing the environment for all Australians while providing a nutritious, quality food product.

A focus on sustainable agriculture is a priority for the Australian livestock industry, with improved environmental practices having benefits for not only the environment, but also productivity. At every stage of the process from the paddock to the plate, there are opportunities for continuous improvement in environmental management and sustainable agriculture practices.

The red meat industry invests over $13 million annually in research and development to better understand the environmental impact and to further improve the environmental performance of the industry and sustainable farming.

The industry has initiated research and development into sustainable production to reduce emissions and water use, improve biodiversity, create energy efficiencies, minimise waste and implement environmentally sustainable land management practices.

In Australia, cattle and sheep are mostly grazed on large areas of semi-arid and arid rangelands.

As with all primary food production the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices is essential in ensuring that Australia is able to feed a growing population with minimal environmental impact.

Sustainable agriculture – The Australian livestock industry

Agricultural sustainability in the Australian livestock industry is best understood in the context of: – Environmental sustainability – Economic sustainability, and – The sustainability of regional communities

Ensuring the industry employs sustainable farming practices has benefits for not only producers, processors and the supply chain but for the regional and rural communities that rely on the employment and economic stimulation of the livestock industry.

To ensure economic sustainability, farmers need to sustainably manage the environment. After all, it’s the soil, grass and water on farmers’ properties that enables them to graze cattle and sheep.

Improving environmental sustainability

Over the past 10 to 15 years the livestock industry has been focused on improving its environmental sustainability. Farmers have been managing the twin challenges of environment sustainability, at the same time as striving to increase productivity in the context of a highly variable climate.

The red meat industry acknowledges that prior to this time that many practices had a negative impact on natural resources across the country. Early Australian agriculture tried to farm the country in a European manner, as a result, a range of government policies and on-farm practices led to environment degradation in some areas.

Today most farmers understand that to be sustainable they need to manage the environment in a sustainable way and employ sustainable agriculture practices.

The industry has invested significantly in research and development to ensure environmental sustainability, including: – Grazing strategies – Soil and groundcover management – Water management – Reducing emissions – Revegetating

The livestock industry is proud of the improvement it has made in sustainably managing natural resources. Right across the country the improvement in soil health, groundcover, vegetation and biodiversity can be seen on farms.

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