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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 47(3)

Environmental Management Systems in the Australian lamb industry: challenges and opportunities for family farms

K.-J. Huhn A B, E. J. Seymour A, A. M. Ridley A

A Department of Primary Industries, Primary Industries Research Victoria, RMB 1145, Chiltern Valley Road, Rutherglen, Vic. 3685, Australia.
B Corresponding author. Email: kyra-jane.huhn@dpi.vic.gov.au
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An Environmental Management System (EMS) has been piloted in the Victorian lamb industry by two producer groups, one with an export focus and one with a domestic focus. We report on producers’ motivation to become involved in EMS, their current environmental performance in 15 aspects of farm management estimated through self-assessment and their experiences with an entry level EMS process. Producers were surveyed to assess motivation for participating before commencing. The results showed a major motivation was concern for the environment and an expressed ‘feeling’ of being responsible for the environmental impacts of their farming activities, both on and beyond the farm. Results from the completion of a self-assessment workbook indicate that producers on average scored well (>66%) in the management of more traditional farming aspects such as livestock and pastures and less well (<49%) in non-traditional aspects such as energy efficiency. All producers in the pilot project have progressed from self-assessment to implementing part of or a full EMS. This has provided insights into producer readiness for adoption with most supporting a staged approach and entry at a low level. We conclude that without market drivers, progress to ISO 14001 certification is not practical for most ‘small’ lamb producers. This supports the concept of a staged approach to EMS as being more achievable than immediate progress to ISO 14001 certification in the first instance because there are insufficient private benefits for most producers. We conclude that producers will need considerable extension support if EMS is to be adopted by more than a minority of producers (even the lower level approaches). Although environmentally motivated producers are likely to be interested in a Stage 2 EMS with extension support, incentives are likely to be required if the majority of producers are to embrace EMS.

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