National Farmers' Federation

Farm sector welcomes review of EPBC Act, hopes for consistency and transparency to be improved

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed an ‘agriculture specific’ review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) as announced today by Environment Minister, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP and Agriculture Minister, the Hon David Littleproud MP.
NFF President Fiona Simson said farmers managed 48 per cent of Australia’s landscape.
“It therefore makes sense for the Act to be reviewed, in the first instance, through the lens of its intersection with agriculture.
“Our farmers are at the frontline of delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of all Australians.
“Every day, farmers care for protected flora and fauna species, encourage biodiversity and nurture soil health.”
Ms Simson said the EPBC Act, in its current form, was in need of refinement, to ensure the best outcomes for the environment, farmers and the regional communities they support.
“Currently, farmers have ongoing concerns about the interaction of the EPBC Act and its State equivalents.
“In some cases farmers can be compliant with the EPBC Act but in breach of a state Act or vice versa. 
“This needs to be resolved, to provide farmers with the certainty they need to do business.”
Ms Simson said, in general, the EPBC Act lacked transparency in regards to the obligations of landholders. 
“The Act fails to recognise the difficulty landholders face in identifying endangered species and exactly what flora and fauna requires particular protection.” 
Ms Simson said she hoped the review would see a rectification of the Act’s shortfalls in consistency and transparency.
“Farmers take pride in, and are astute at, managing and protecting biodiversity, while going about the pursuit of feeding and clothing the world.
“To enable them to do this in a way that achieves the best outcomes for the environment and productivity, they need to be absolutely clear of their legislative obligations.
“Also importantly, farmers must not be burdened with unnecessary red tape.”
The NFF welcomed the appointment of Dr Wendy Craik to lead the review.
“As a former NFF Director, National Competition Council President and current Chair of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, Dr Craik has the knowledge and appropriate public and private sector experience to undertake the required consultation.
“We look forward to working with Dr Craik and the Government on this important piece of work.
“The world’s population is forecast to rise from today’s 7.3 billion to 8.5 billion by 2030 – greatly increasing the demand for agriculture production. 
“The NFF has a vision for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030. 
“Ongoing best practice environmental management will be key to Australian farmers sustainably growing our industry and continuing to contribute to feeding the world,” Ms Simson said.

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