Sustainable farming held up by funding and the environment

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainable farming held up by funding and the environment
A new study by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (Abares) has identified financial and environmental concerns to be the key drivers influencing the adoption of sustainable farming practices in Australia.

Released this New Year, the research is based on a national survey of over 1,300 farm managers conducted between 2010 and 2011 that examined land management practices across cropping, grazing, native vegetation and weed management.

Platform for new programmes

Abares executive director Paul Morris said the results will provide a foundation for the development of policies and programmes across the government, NGOs and the private sector.

Abares examined financial, environmental and personal concerns as well as the availability of support networks​,” he said.

There is a strong awareness of the issues and an understanding of the imperatives for sustainability across all sectors of the Australian farming community, with lack of funds the main factor limiting farmers’ ability to change their management practices, followed by available time and workload​.”

Aquaculture on the up

Meanwhile, new figures released by Abares show that the value of aquaculture has increased by 8% to around A$948m in 2010-11.

The numbers suggest that aquaculture has steadily increased its share of Australian fishery product earnings over the last decade to, from 29% to 43% with, the farmed fish sector, particularly Atlantic salmon, contributing most to this increase.

Farmed salmonid species remained Australia’s highest earning fisheries product in 2010-11, at A$408.8m, after increasing its earnings by 11% or $39.3m​,” said Morris.

South Australian farmed tuna production also increased its earnings between 2010 and 2011by 22% or A$22.9m, to reach A$125m following a global recovery in tuna prices. Farmed barramundi increased earnings by A$3.7m to A$35.7m.

Other aquaculture products include edible oysters (A$99m), prawns (A$57m), abalone (A$16m) and mussels (A$10m).

The increase in aquaculture value contributed to a rise in the total gross value of production of Australian fisheries of 2% to reach A$2.23bn in 2010-11.

In the same year the value of wild catch fisheries production decreased by 2% to A$1.31bn.

The value of Australian fisheries exports remained steady at A$1.2bn in 2010-11 with rock lobster being the most valuable fisheries export (valued at A$369m), followed by abalone (A$212m), tuna (A$131m) and prawns (A$77m).

Hong Kong and Japan were the main export markets for Australian fisheries exports in 2010-11, accounting for 44% and 22% in value terms respectively. Other major export markets include China (12%) and Singapore and the United States (both 4%).

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