The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has announced its continuing partnership with the Australian Government to further develop the Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework (AASF).
The AASF aligns industry sustainability measurement to common environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The framework will enable Australian agriculture to demonstrate its sustainability credentials to markets and the community.
NFF Vice President, David Jochinke, said that as ESG demands on the sector increased, it was important that Australia was on the front foot to help meet and even shape market expectations.
“We’re seeing the demands of our customers, investors and the community increase. Simply saying we’re sustainable is no longer good enough – they want to see the evidence.
“Ever-increasing international investment and activity in ESG reporting systems, climate- and nature-related financial disclosure mechanisms, and sustainability reporting policies around the world underscores the urgent need for implementation of the AASF.
“We already have data available, but there are some gaps and it’s about serving it up in a way that aligns with global reporting standards. At the end of the day, this is about easing the reporting burden on individual farmers by tapping into what we already have.
“Importantly, as an export-orientated industry, this will help sure-up trade and market access for farmers into the future.”
The commencement of this next phase of work on the AASF coincides with a new report released this week by ABARES showing how Australia stacks up globally on farm sustainability.
“What they’ve found is Australian farmers use less fertiliser, have better nutrient balances on their land and use more sustainable cropping practices. It also shows we have a much lower carbon footprint for our red meat products.
“This an excellent result and contributes to the evidence of our sustainability. We know we have a great story to tell, and we’re getting more sophisticated in how we tell it.
“The Australian beef industry’s commitment to carbon-neutrality by 2030 and the 10 year anniversary of the dairy industries’ sustainability reporting are also powerful examples of industry leadership,” said Mr Jochinke.
NFF will be working with AASF delivery partners including the Australian Farm Institute and CSIRO to implement new AASF activity. These include:
- designing a data ecosystem to increase ease of access and efficiency in use of sustainability data;
- expanding the AASF Community of Practice including continuing to evolve the AASF model;
- developing an AASF prototype report;
- a materiality assessment of AASF against international and domestic priorities;
- piloting the AASF with industry, supply chain and finance end-users;
- hosting a sustainability traceability working group.
“We are very excited to continue to lead this work to ensure Australian agriculture is recognised for its sustainability,” Mr Jochinke said.