A team of six Moyne Shire youth are calling for measures to incentivise sustainable agriculture.
The group tabled a bill in the Victorian Youth Parliament last week.
The bill passed with an impressive 85 per cent of the vote. The youths aged 17-22 spoke in the virtual Youth Parliament about their passion for the environment and their desire to work with and empower farmers.
Under their proposed Sustainable Agriculture Incentives Bill 2021, farmers and community gardens volunteers could apply to a state-level Committee for Sustainable Agriculture, for grants to make their agriculture practices more environmentally sustainable.
The committee would also run sustainability education campaigns and provide relevant training opportunities.
Youth parliamentarian Michael Killen, 20, says the team designed the bill to give farmers decision-making freedom.
"It's about giving farmers the funding and letting them choose their measures they want to implement, because they are the ones with the most experience," he said.
Fellow youth parliamentarian Sarah Fenton, 22, told the parliament she had seen first hand how sustainable farming improved the land and people.
"Funding is about uplifting the smaller farms and community organisations," she said.
Teammate Jordy Gray, 17, agreed, saying rural communities would take up environmental sustainability grants and education if they were available.
"A lot of people from our area are keen on how to better their efficiency in farming, as well as a lot of the younger community are keen to figure out how they can do the same practices in a more sustainable manner," she said.
Jordy's claims of Moyne Shire's interest in sustainability are supported by results from council's 2021 Moyne Shire Community Vision survey, which show community members rank 'climate change/extreme weather' as the third most important priority for future action.
Moyne has also joined the Barwon South West Climate Alliance.
The Moyne Shire youth parliamentarians believe their bill is a necessary addition to current sustainability funding measures governments have put in place.
"Despite the fact climate awareness is becoming increasingly normalised within society and especially among young people, not a lot of that focus is directed towards farms and farming and agriculture, which in our region especially, is a major industry," Michael said. "We thought it really needed to be targeted."
The Victorian Youth Parliament is run by the YMCA and has 120 participants aged 16-25. Successful bills, including the Sustainable Agriculture Incentives Bill 2021, have been passed on to the Victorian Minister For Youth Ros Spence.
The 35th annual Victorian Youth Parliament sat from September 19-24. Chamber sessions can be viewed on the Youth Parliament YouTube channel.
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