EnviroVeg Program for promoting environmental best practice in the Australian vegetable industry
EnviroVeg (the Program) is a vegetable industry-specific environmental Best Management Practice (BMP) program, funded through the vegetable R&D levy. It has existed in evolving forms since 2000, with a number of resources offered to growers through the Program so that they can benchmark and improve their BMPs as well as showcase their environmental credentials. VG12008 is the latest program iteration and has been managed by AUSVEG since 2012. A one year extension was added in 2015 to develop a strategy for the Program (the strategy), conduct an evaluation of program impact over its lifetime covering all EnviroVeg projects (the evaluation), and form a formal agreement with a recognised on-farm quality assurance (QA) program. An independent review of EnviroVeg (VG15018, the review) provided the scope for this extension and included feedback that has been encompassed within the strategy. As a long running levy funded program, EnviroVeg represents a considerable investment from the vegetable industry. This final reporting period of December 2015-December 2016 has focused on developing and implementing a strategic plan to ensure that this investment is utilised to obtain the best advantage of the Australian vegetable industry going forward. Through extensive consultation with engaged industry members and growers, the service provider has made recommendations as to how this investment should proceed over the next five year period. The strategy is included with this report as a companion document and outlines a streamlined program, with defined program elements integrated with other industry programs that share the vision and interests of EnviroVeg. The strategy incorporates feedback from the evaluation and will streamline a number of program components moving forward, supporting long-term sustainability of the Program. EnviroVeg has formalised an agreement with Freshcare Ltd, a recognised on-farm QA program, which will streamline environmental assurance functionality for the Australian vegetable industry. This is one of the key outcomes of VG12008 that will provide clear direction for EnviroVeg and the Australian vegetable industry. The strategy also recommends raising industry awareness of the Program through the National Vegetable Extension Network (NVEN), and increasing the amount of data gathered by using a more sophisticated online platform. EnviroVeg has been required to reduce its emphasis on measureable outputs during this time in order to deliver outputs in line with the current contract. Previously, VG12008 has delivered a number of measureable outputs including increasing program membership and area coverage, developing tiered membership levels and audited components, communication outputs, face to face extension and workshops. This report discusses the impact of these outputs and outlines how the continuation of EnviroVeg, through consolidating its role in the industry, will enable greater collaboration and a future focus on long-term outcomes, operating in the best interests of the Australian vegetable industry.