Environmental Management Strategy and Program for the Australian Vegetable Industry
The EnviroVeg Program was established in 2000 as a Program to assist Australian vegetable growers to implement environmental initiatives on their property and benchmark their performance through self assessments. In response to rising costs of inputs, community concerns, consumer preference and potential regulation it is more important than ever that the vegetable industry has a strong proactive approach to environmental management. EnviroVeg membership has grown by 200% in the period of this project from 128 to 338 growers, backed by a proactive and highly-effective promotions strategy implemented by AUSVEG. In addition, hectare coverage has grown from 10,000 to over 50,000 since these statistics started to be collected and large commercial operations have joined the program. With a strong environmental program like EnviroVeg in place, the industry has the means to display its environmental credentials in response to a changing social and regulatory environment. Strong growth has led to retailer interest in the Program, and promising developments in seeing growers provided with a tangible commercial benefit for their environmental performance. AUSVEG has a long-term strategy in place to deliver these benefits to growers through a revamped environmental assurance scheme allowing participating growers to use the Program logo. This will be progressed further in the next project. Further, this project included the development of a customised database and website to allow for industry-leading data on environmental performance and assist AUSVEG to manage its rapidly growing membership base. Growers now have access to an unprecedented wealth of environmental benchmarking data through the website, allowing comparisons to be made with other growers throughout Australia. Other key outcomes of this project include greater awareness of the Program with the media and key decision-makers and a proactive media engagement strategy. AUSVEG has been working to build the reputation of the EnviroVeg Program outside of the industry, so that the environmental efforts of Australian growers are rightly acknowledged in the broader community. The current project period for EnviroVeg has seen success which has far exceeded AUSVEG’s initial expectations. Utilising in-house marketing and communications capabilities, AUSVEG has been able to put strategies in place to drive unprecedented growth in membership and area coverage. As custodians of a large proportion of Australia’s land mass, farmers will be vital in securing net environmental benefits through land management; EnviroVeg has grown to be a leading environmental program within Australian agriculture. AUSVEG firmly believes EnviroVeg represents a model for other horticulture and broader agricultural programs to emulate, as many of the techniques could be applied with great success.