Sustaining farms through the drought

17 October 2018

A revolutionary interdisciplinary program to improve sustainability of farming was launched at Parliament House today.

The Australian National University's (ANU) Sustainable Farms program will bring together environmental, economic and psychology experts to develop techniques to improve the long-term viability of Australia's agricultural industry.

Program lead Professor David Lindenmayer said the pressures of farmer mental health, land degradation, carbon emissions and biodiversity loss have created a national challenge for our agricultural industry.

"We are building on a platform of 20 years research and bringing in exciting new work in farmer mental health and farm finance and economics - and coupling that with a major program of demonstration farms," Professor Lindenmayer said.

"We are confident we can help identify what truly sustainable farming is - farms that are financially sustainable, productive, socially sustainable in terms of mental well-being, and ecologically sustainable in terms of contributing to biodiversity recovery."

Professor Lindenmayer will be joined by leading economist Professor Bruce Chapman and Associate Professor Phil Batterman from the National Centre for Mental Health Research in a multidisciplinary approach to identifying ways to improve farming sustainability.

The ANU program received seed funding from the Ian Potter Foundation, Fairfax Foundation, and has been boosted by private donations from Australian farmers who wish to support a program that will help improve the longevity of their industry and businesses.

"The Sustainable Farms initiative is another example of the ANU tackling the nation's challenges through multidisciplinary cooperation," ANU Provost Professor Mike Calford said.

The Sustainable Farms initiative was launched by Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Hon David Littleproud MP. Engagement with the farmers has begun and the program is expected to run for five years.


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