26 October 2012
Australia has a new Advocate for Soil Health with Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing the appointment of former Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery to the role during a speech to the National Farmers’ Federation in Canberra this week.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, welcomed the appointment of Major General Jeffery, saying strong leadership was needed to emphasise the importance of effectively managing Australia’s natural resource base.
“The long-term sustainability of food production relies on the effective and efficient management of natural resources, particularly soil and water,” Minister Ludwig said.
“Major General Jeffery’s passion for regional development and the future of our rural industries will be an asset to this new role.”
The appointment of an eminent Australian to promote the importance of soil was a key recommendation of the Working Group on Water, Soil and Food, which is chaired by Minister Ludwig and includes Independent MP Rob Oakeshott.
“The working group examined how soil quality and water quality underpin food production and considered how these important issues relate to policy development in Australia, particularly in the face of long-term issues such as global food security,” Mr Oakshottsaid.
“We recognised the significance of soil condition and soil information to agricultural productivity and identified the need to boost awareness in the community.”
As Advocate for Soil Health, Major General Jeffery will raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in underpinning agricultural productivity, delivering high quality ecosystem services and meeting global challenges such as climate change.
“The agricultural sector is the backbone of Australia’s economy and the appointment of Major General Jeffery further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the long term sustainability of the sector in an ever-changing climate,” Minister Ludwig said.
The Australian Government recently announced the new $700 million ‘sustainable agriculture’ stream as part of the ongoing Caring for our Country program.
“Helping farmers to improve the condition of their soil will be a major component of the next phase of Caring for our Country,” Minister Ludwig said.
“The advocate will help to strengthen our agricultural industries into the future.”
More information about soils is available on the DAFF website.