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Profitable and sustainable agricultural production: balancing objectives.



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AFFA03/051T - 22 August 2003

Profitable and sustainable agricultural production - balancing objectives

AFFA03/51T 22 August 2003

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Senator Judith Troeth today highlighted the complexities facing agricultural producers in deciding whether to adopt biotechnology advancements as part of their production methods.

Speaking at the National Conference of Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) Senator Troeth also stressed the importance of environmentally sustainable farm management practices for future growth in Australian agriculture.

"Striking the balance between adopting farming practices, that are both economically and environmentally sustainable is an ongoing challenge primary producers continually face," Senator Troeth said.

"Biotechnology is one of the most important technology developments the rural sector has had to address for many years. It has already shown remarkable benefits, not only to individual producers, but also to the environment, such as reduced chemical use in the case of GM cotton."

Senator Troeth said the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Biotechnology Strategy, which she launched in Adelaide last week, sought to achieve a balance between the wide range of views and concerns associated with the adoption of biotechnology.

"Addressing the issues associated with this technology has been an exercise in balance - taking into account the views of governments, industry and the community," Senator Troeth said.

"With around 65 per cent of our agricultural production exported each year, it is increasingly crucial that Australian farmers continue to adopt new practices and innovations to remain internationally competitive. And biotechnology is just one tool that might be used to achieve this," she said.

"Equally important is for our farmers to be able to verify our 'green' credentials - not only to our international trading partners, but also to domestic consumers.

"Environmental management systems (EMS), and similar natural resource management programs, are one way of achieving this. They formalise what many farmers are already doing, but go a step further by providing them with the skills to independently assess the environmental impacts - both good and bad - of their farming operations, taking into account

legislation, industry codes of practice and regional catchment aims.

"The Australian Government is committed to assisting the rural sector to address current and future market pressures. We appreciate the balancing act that goes into daily farm management, and keeping on top of issues such as biotechnology and NRM."

The Biotechnology Strategy can be found online at www.affa.gov.au/bsaff Further information about EMS is available online at www.affa.gov.au/ems

Further media inquiries:

Senator Troeth's office: Annette Healy 02 6277 3002 or 0408 917 639