24 June 2024.

The Sustainability Policy Committee has developed a set of policy principles to inform and guide Queensland’s decision makers and thought leaders to support our agricultural sector in continuing their strong ESG trajectory.

These principles were made with consideration for international expectations for corporations driven through the United Nations, the World Bank and global finance, with a shift towards ESG frameworks to evaluate corporate sustainability performance.

We recognise that primary producers in Queensland have demonstrated that, despite extraordinary challenges, they can still lead the world in both productivity and best practice across ESG principles.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Policy Principles:

  • Environment: Queensland’s growers and graziers pride themselves on care for the environment, striving to improve land for future generations.  Through this, most of our state’s natural wealth remains conserved on working farms.  Moreover, our producers pay levies supporting research, development and adoption of world-leading best practice resource management, including reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Social: Our primary producers provide the ultimate social service:  keeping our society fed and clothed.  This provides food security and self-sufficiency for our state, protecting our population from critical shortages, whilst endeavouring to provide fair wages, equal employment opportunities and support for local communities – especially in regional and remote areas.  Incentivising away from primary production, through increased financial or legal burden, could be calamitous for our society.
  • Governance: Queensland producers operate without agricultural subsidies and yet our farmers are highly regulated – operating under multiple layers of local, state and national legislation as well as voluntarily adopting industry-developed codes of practice, certification schemes and best practice management programs across multiple commodities.

AgForce asserts that decision makers, both corporate, academic and governmental, can ultimately best support ESG outcomes for agriculture in the following ways:

Defend and Champion:

Our producers must have support in promoting our strong ESG credentials.  We call on our political, corporate and academic leaders to endorse and uphold industry backed and scientifically verified claims, criteria and definitions, including countering anti-farming propaganda and unjustified expectations – both on domestic and international fronts.


Policy tools and instruments for agriculture must be designed in tandem with representatives across the agricultural supply chain, rather than corporations and governments working in isolation from the practical reality of primary production systems.  This is crucial for preventing unintended consequences that could jeopardise the profitable and secure supply of food and fibre in Queensland.


While opportunities for diversified products and additional income streams are in many cases welcome (eg, natural capital and carbon markets, hosting renewable energy infrastructure etc), they must remain purely voluntary, so as not to interfere with farmers’ rights or compromise critical primary production practices.  This includes a right to decline if not fully satisfied with disclosure and transparency over data use, privacy and security.

Market Driven:

ESG conditions and criteria must be kept in check by market forces (ie, not be driven by idealism or consumer preferences beyond our key markets).  Decisions must be driven by data rather than sentiment.  Over-regulation risks weakening our strong sector through market distortion, increased operational costs, higher prices for consumers, limited job growth, investment uncertainty and supply shortages.


Multiple legislative and self-regulatory instruments already exist to ensure Queensland’s producers are meeting modern standards and societal expectations.  Most farming enterprises are small to medium-sized family business with minimum capacity to manage mounting regulatory reporting or costly practice change.  Over-regulation of our essential sector will hamper capacity for agile and innovative leadership at farm scale that will have wide-reaching repercussions.


Expectations placed on primary producers must have a basis in mutual understanding, including practical feasibility, and be matched with an agreed form of benefit (eg, price premiums, access to finance, tax-deductions, or additional resourcing).  Producers cannot be expected to make sacrifices without fair and freely agreed terms.

Fair Prices:

Growing food and fibre is increasingly expensive.  Ultimately, providing fair farm gate prices is the best means of ensuring producers can run strong business that can invest more across multiple facets of ESG.  We seek a fair, transparent and competitive approach to price setting, with increased bargaining power and effective enforcement to ensure viable supply chains.