Good stewardship adds value to KI farms

Productive crops at Wisanger, Kangaroo Island. Photo Ross Evans
Productive crops at Wisanger, Kangaroo Island. Photo Ross Evans

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island, AgKI and PIRSA recently hosted a workshop to discuss stewardship and accreditation options for the Island's producers as part of the Future Proofing Agriculture on KI Project.

Also present at the workshop were various producers, including from wool, meat, wine, grain, honey, aquaculture, seed potato sectors, and the KI Industry & Brand Alliance.

Funded through the KI NRM Board by the Federal Government's National Landcare Program, the project aims to help farmers adapt to changing consumer preferences and market demands through exploring the connection between good farm stewardship and the market value of produce.

Speaking at the workshop, associate director, Natural Value at National Australia Bank, James Bentley, said that there was increasing interest from financial institutions in the concept of 'natural capital' being used to manage risk.

"We need to manage our natural capital with the same diligence that we manage our financial capital. This means accounting for the availability of clean water, investing in biodiversity and putting a value on soil conservation," Mr Bentley said.

He went on to explain that whole of farm management is increasingly being looked at by financial institutions when deciding loans and other investment opportunities, which could lead to good farm stewardship being rewarded with lower borrowing rates as they demonstrate industry best practice.

AgKI chairman Rick Morris said that he found the presentation by Prof. Wendy Umberger, executive director at the Centre for Global Food & Resources, quite eye-opening.

"It was quite alarming for me to see the consumer trends within my industry (red meat) and further highlights the need to document and prove all the good work we're doing in regards to land management (whether we're proven to be carbon neutral or better in the near future) and animal health and welfare," Mr Morris said.

"After all, my production system (prime lambs) is totally reliant on my ewes being in top condition, the stronger they are the more lambs hit the ground. I need a way to tell this story to the consumer and the general public."

Senior consultant, Land Management at PIRSA, Lyn Dohle, said that being participation in accredited farm stewardship schemes brings added value to farmers and consumers alike.

"The uptake of robust accreditation schemes for good farming stewardship will mean that farmers will be able to tap into a more discerning market and higher premium for their products," Ms Dohle said.

"International markets increasingly look for consistency, provenance of produce and traceability of supply chains and where this is demonstrated, markets reward producers with a higher return."

Shauna Black, manager for the KI Industry & Brand Alliance, said that farmer participation in accredited stewardship schemes would further strengthen the island's brand promise and reputation.

"The Authentic Kangaroo Island brand is now well established after many years of hard work and there is an increasing demand for food, beverages and products of KI provenance, however, there is increasing market demand for independent certification," Ms Black said.

Working group participants are now considering a desktop review of existing certification schemes so that those that best fit KI's needs can be identified and their uptake promoted in various ways.

A key take home message is that we need to diligently protect the things that make the Island special, including our reputation for sound environmental management, and that contribute to its distinctive character, as these are the things that visitors to the Island and consumers of our produce are seeking.

For more information on the Future Proofing Agriculture on KI Project please visit: https://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/land-and-water/Future_Proofing_Agriculture_on_Kangaroo_Island_Project

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