Australian cattle and sheep farmers on target for sustainability success

| August 8, 2013

Target 100 is an initiative that aims to deliver sustainable cattle and sheep farming in Australia. Elise Vale, coordinator of the program, wants to engage more people into a conversation about how our food is produced.

While 67% of Australians claim to know very little about how beef and lamb is produced, 60% want to learn how farmers care for the environment and produce food, according to research commissioned by the Australian beef and lamb industry.

With the public’s knowledge of livestock farming at such a low there is a clear disconnect between the people producing food and those eating it.

To address this gap and continually improve the sustainability of Australia’s beef and lamb industry, individual farmers and the broader cattle and sheep industry have developed Target 100.

Launched a little over a year ago, Target 100 aims to deliver sustainable cattle and sheep farming. It is the industry’s commitment to take positive action to advance sustainability throughout the industry and to help educate the community about food production.

Target 100 aims to achieve three outcomes:

  • Connect beef and lamb consumers with the farmers who produce their food via social media and events
  • Showcase 100 research and development projects that provide the Australian cattle and sheep industry with a constant stream of scientific research to adapt its practices in line with the changing environment, enabling the industry to feed a growing population sustainably for generations to come
  • Highlight what individual cattle and sheep farmers are doing on their properties to become more sustainable every day, demonstrating how previous research has led to changes in farming.

Australian cattle and sheep farmers are caretakers of almost half of Australia’s landmass and understand from first-hand experience the importance of a healthy environment. Their livelihoods depend on it.

Farmers have been investing in environmental research and development for many years through the levies they pay on each head of livestock sold. Around $12 million is invested each year in research to reduce the industry’s environmental impact through improving farming practices.

Less than 8 per cent of Australia’s land is suitable for cropping. Cattle and sheep, which produce nutrient-rich protein from grass that is inedible by other animals, are mainly reared on extensive rangelands and semi-arid areas where other food production is not possible.

This is one factor that makes Australia one of the most efficient producers of quality livestock in the world, allowing us to feed our own population and the growing global population.

And while there is much work to be done, Target 100 is making a difference. It was named the winner of the United Nations Association of Australia’s World Environment Day Sustainability Education Award from a strong field of contenders earlier this year and previously it was awarded the prestigious 2012 Origin Gold Banksia Award. The program also received the Banksia Education Award.

If you are someone who cares about good quality beef and lamb, where it comes from and how it gets to you, how about joining the conversation? Target 100 is accessible through Facebook and Twitter, and you can view the full list of 100 industry initiatives and individual farmer stories here.