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2019 Spring - Managing agriculture’s ecosystem services

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FPJ1603F - Craik, W (2019), Farmers and environmental law: the EPBC review

Craik, W (2019), Farmers and environmental law: the EPBC review, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 16, no. 3, Spring 2019, pp. 42-51, Surry Hills, Australia.

In March 2018, Dr Wendy Craik was engaged to undertake a targeted review for the Australian Government to find ways to better support farmers under the national environment law. The review of Interactions between the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 and the agriculture sector was released in June 2019. 
The EPBC Act promotes the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources and provides a regulatory framework to manage and protect matters of national environmental significance. The review was designed to advise on improving the implementation of the Act for agriculture while maintaining environmental standards, and to help farmers understand when the legislation applies to their activities and how to manage its often complex requirements.
In general, the review found there is a lack of clarity around the overarching objectives of regulation of agricultural activity under the Act, and that the Act is not meeting its regulatory objectives in relation to the sector. Existing environmental impact assessment processes are viewed as unclear and needlessly complicated, inconsiderate of the realities of agriculture, and excessively time-consuming and costly for farmers who engage with them. The Act is viewed as a largely punitive tool, implementation of which is not resulting in improved data, collaboration or the promotion of a view that Australia’s environmental assets are of real value to the agriculture sector.
The report by Dr Craik will be considered as part of the planned independent statutory review of the EPBC Act, which is due to commence in October 2019. The following article is an extract of the report including the foreword and executive summary.















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