Australia's beef farmers will receive a helping hand to measure what they are doing on-farm in areas such as drought resistance, soil conservation and vegetation retention against sustainability standards.
The Federal Government has chipped in $3.73 million to an innovative new project in recognition of the value of equipping graziers with the evidence that international markets are increasingly requiring to demonstrate their sustainable production credentials.
Meat & Livestock Australia is leading the development of the national online sustainability framework under the wider Smart Farming Partnerships program.
MLA's chief marketing and communications officer Lisa Sharp said the project would allow participating graziers the opportunity to assess their on-farm performance and practices against sustainability standards.
"Farmers will opt in to have their practices verified against the five sustainability standards and demonstrate their performance in order to both improve practices and access emerging international markets requiring evidence of sustainable production," she said.
"The system will enhance the business case for farmers to voluntarily improve their practices, and showcase continuous practice improvement of the industry.
"Additionally, the project will establish a system to provide the basic evidence for farmers to opt in to the emerging biodiversity and carbon credit markets, providing additional sources of income and recognition of good management of natural assets on their properties."
Five sustainability credentials and supporting modules will enable broad-acre graziers to assess their on-farm performance and practices. The credentials will utilise remote sensing of farms so that participating graziers can have their practices verified against the standards.
The credentials are: vegetation retention and enhancement, grass cover and soil conservation, biodiversity stewardship, carbon accounting and drought resilience.
Ms Sharp welcomed the grant and said one of the first steps now would be to bring together industry groups and other key stakeholders in 2020 to contribute to a detailed project plan.
Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said the move would help beef farmers with the adoption of standards that potentially lucrative markets were demanding more and more.
"When it comes to maximising Australia's strengths as a red meat exporter, sustainable production is an increasingly valuable card to play - and as a government we should be doing everything we can to back our beef producers especially during drought," she said.
"We see this project as a key opportunity for our $10.8 billion beef industry to showcase its sustainable production credentials to the world while encouraging producers to adopt improved land management practices.
"The reach of this project is potentially significant given the size of the area under beef production in Australia.
"It also has the potential to link with Australian and international initiatives around environmental and emissions reduction objectives."