Policy background

Any sustainable and justice-oriented agricultural practice needs to place Aboriginal self-determination, empowerment and participation at its centre.

European land management and European plants and animals combined with inappropriate agricultural practices and methods, and widespread feral plant and animal infestations, have led to ongoing erosion, soil loss, salinity and soil structure collapse across the country, threatening the viability of many rural communities, and endangering future food security.

Profits from farming have increasingly been transferred out of the agricultural sector and into non-productive commercial sectors.

Farm workers, many of who are casual labourers, are among the worst paid and suffer from some of the worst working conditions.

The sustainable agriculture we support refers to farming based on natural processes and requires the development of well functioning agro-ecosystems both above and below ground.

It should provide cheap nutritious food while husbanding the natural environment and ensuring a decent income and working conditions for farmers and farm workers.

Socialist Alliance supports and campaigns for

  • The protection of fresh water

    • Industries that pollute water catchments and groundwater must be stopped immediately and liable for clean-up costs.
    • Phasing out of corporate agribusiness farming practices such as in the Murray-Darling Basin, and the regulation for sustainable water use in irrigation.
    • All water allocations to be put under public control.
  • A transition to sustainable agriculture

    • Reducing reliance on synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.
    • Encouraging pest and disease minimisation by relying on the natural immune systems of plants, integrated management and ending monoculture and factory farming.
    • Eliminate the use of antibiotics as a standard part of stock feed
    • Encouraging mulching, composting, carbon sequestration in pasture, animal manure fertiliser, crop rotation, rotational grazing, direct-drilling crops into pasture.
    • Extend public funding of agricultural research and education to ensure the further development of sustainable agriculture.
    • Funding, resources and training to farming communities, in combination with sustainable agriculture organisations, to make the transition to sustainable agriculture.
    • Subsidising water conservation measures such as covering open water channels and replacing overhead irrigation with underground irrigation to reduce evaporation.
    • Increasing and redirect agricultural research into improving the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems and regions.
    • Developing sustainable grazing practices and subsidise cell-grazing infrastructure to improve soil stability and water availability and reverse desertification.
    • An end to the unsustainable, inhumane and environmentally destructive system of factory farming. Encouraging a shift from fossil-fuel based chemical pesticides and fertilisers to animal manures.
    • Increasing the amount of carbon locked in the soil and the ecosystem through carbon sequestration in pastures, holistic grazing, permanent reforestation and the use of sustainable farming practices.
    • Preventing industrial biofuel or biochar production or broad scale carbon "offsetting" through unsustainable plantations that lock up prime farming land.
    • Stopping the urbanisation of prime rural land around cities and the use of prime agricultural land for urban development or mining.
    • Promoting the restoration and remediation of native vegetation and ecosystems.
    • Ensure effective management and removal of invasive feral plant and animal species.
    • Cutting the number of feral ruminants, especially camels, and subsidise the re-opening of regional abattoirs and the establishment of mobile abattoirs.
    • Establishing a regional feral animal management plan and subsidising the creation of a market for feral animal products.
  • Protecting farmers and farm workers

    • An end to the forced sale of indebted farms.
    • New farm employees' industrial awards to ensure that they, including casuals, receive comparable pay and conditions to other workers.
    • A permanent pool of farm labourers employed under appropriate public sector wages and conditions by the federal government, to meet the increased labour needs of switching from industrial agriculture to organic farming.
    • Encouraging farming cooperatives, local farmers markets, and state or cooperative marketing authorities, to ensure all farmers receive a fair price from processors and retailers.
    • Increasing Landcare funding assistance for farmers to cover the costs of environmental stewardship.
    • The guarantee of a living wage for farmers who produce sustainably.
  • Food security

    • Prevent use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until exhaustive, independent testing can prove they do not have potential to cause harm. Label all GM product content.
    • Set up a comprehensive labelling of all types of food.
    • Increase and maintain crop diversity and ban the patenting of seeds.
    • Encouraging national agricultural self-sufficiency, minimising the need for food imports.
    • Encouraging food processing and trading practices that reduce transport, packaging and waste. Increasing research and development on more efficient agricultural water use practices.
    • Encouraging the creation of urban and peri-urban "city farms" community and "permaculture" gardens.
    • Increasing the scope of agricultural education, including at a primary and secondary school levels.
    • Increasing foreign aid aimed at developing self-sufficient sustainable food production practices in developing countries, and seeking to prevent "food dumping".
    • Developing "fair trade" policies and increase foreign food aid programs to help prevent starvation and malnutrition.
    • Replacing live animal exports with frozen processed meat exports.