One of the biggest barriers to uptake of a farm-scale change like holistic management (HM) is the building of fences and water supply for all the smaller paddocks required to run a high-intensity short-duration rotational grazing regime. Australia has announced federal tax deductions for such infrastructure, effective July 2016, along with an endorsement of ‘cell grazing’ by Treasurer, Joe Hockey:
“… This initiative will help with cell farming, which is far more productive and is actually better for the environment … A lot of farmers don’t erect fences because it becomes expensive, but the more fencing we have, and the better utilisation of existing farmland through cell farming, you’re going to see a better outcome.”
Cell grazing is not synonymous with HM, but is consistent with one of HM’s composite practices.
It is hard to know if this new policy support is related to the endorsement of HM in the 2010 report from the Australian House of Representatives Inquiry into the role of government in assisting Australian farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which suggested HM as a climate adaptive practice. My Sustainable Farms colleagues and I submitted evidence about the value of HM during drought to this Inquiry in 2009 and were invited in front of it to give evidence, much of which was reflected in the final report. It is worth noting that the federal budget package is not entirely adaptive, including more drought-related loans, which represents buffering and technological fixes rather than behavioural change.