Frequently Asked Questions

Development of the Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF) is led by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) on behalf of the Australian agricultural industry and is supported by the Australian Government through the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

The Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF), functioning at the national level, is designed to prevent any increase in the burden of on-farm reporting. This approach ensures continued industry support for the initiative while establishing a precedent for the data ecosystem to deliver comprehensive reporting for the framework. By utilising this data, farmers will gain valuable insights into finance, supply chain and market expectations regarding sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and governance) requirements.

The AASF aims to streamline reporting processes and provide valuable information to farmers without imposing additional reporting burdens on them.

While many producers collect sustainability performance data on a property basis, whether that be aligned to an industry sustainability framework or for independent reporting, the need for national reporting is significant. Internationally, benchmarking national agricultural practice against environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities is becoming essential to operate and compete. Australia does not have a national framework to coalesce this data and demonstrate national sustainability credentials in a framework that is aligned with international, industry and market requirements.

Customers, shareholders and regulatory bodies are increasingly seeking assurance when investing in Australian agricultural products. Demonstrating our sustainability credentials in a robust, industry supported framework provides them with the confidence that Australia can prove its sustainability status.

The uniqueness of Australian agriculture and its specific production conditions are not adequately reflected in the current global sustainability frameworks. As a result, domestic commodity-based sustainability frameworks have been developed to address these specific conditions. However, these frameworks are limited in scope as they focus solely on individual commodities and fail to address sustainability issues that are relevant to the entire agricultural industry. Moreover, many commodities face specific issues unique to them which may be challenging to confront and some existing frameworks might not have the courage to address them directly. As a result, commodity-based sustainability frameworks tend to overlook or sidestep these difficult challenges, which can hinder the comprehensive sustainability efforts needed to tackle the complexities of the agricultural sector effectively.

The Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF) takes a different approach. It is designed with high-level themes, principles and criteria to accommodate the diverse range of commodities, geographic locations and production systems present in the country. By allowing this flexibility, the AASF aims to foster alignment and consistency across various existing and emerging frameworks, schemes and programs. Additionally, the framework seeks to tackle common issues like data accessibility, which can be beneficial for the entire agricultural sector in Australia.

The Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF) is effectively avoiding ‘greenwashing’ through its commitment to transparency and active industry engagement. By involving over 1300 farmers, finance, retail, supply chain representatives and other stakeholders in defining its principles, the AASF ensures a comprehensive and inclusive approach.

To prevent unsubstantiated sustainability claims, the AASF relies on a robust evidence base. This includes aggregation of information from various commodity frameworks and schemes, consideration of international standards and sustainability initiatives, input from the Community of Practice and engagement with stakeholders.

Moreover, the framework aligns with existing domestic and global sustainability frameworks, using their insights to inform and shape its own credentials. In the future, the AASF will draw evidence from a data ecosystem which is being investigated by CSIRO.

This concerted effort towards transparency, engagement and evidence-based decision-making safeguards the AASF from falling into the trap of greenwashing and helps maintain its credibility in promoting genuine sustainability in Australian agriculture.