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Sunday, 17 July 2022

Countdown is on to environment, social and governance (ESG) conference in Wodonga

Southern Riverina producer and seedstock business operator, Lucinda Corrigan says the understanding of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues for corporations has become mainstream in recent years.

“In a sense it is ‘doing well by doing right’. The thinking has extended to industries and Australian primary producers, exposed to the global consumer through long supply chains, has embraced ESG reporting,” Ms Corrigan said.

“The Australian dairy industry was the first ‘cab off the rank’ committing to a sustainability framework in 2016. They have since reported on their goals and metrics annually and made significant progress in issues that are material to their supply chains.”

Ms Corrigan will provide a producer’s perspective at a conference at La Trobe University in Wodonga on 28 July, which offers the opportunity to learn more about what ESG is and what it means now and into the future for all producers, processors and retailers.

The event is supported by the North East Catchment Management Authority and Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government and Meat and Livestock Australia.

“The ESG approach is not as yet uniform and a recent audit of available systems in Great Britain found more than 600 different companies designing reporting systems,” Ms Corrigan said. 

“The important point is that the company or industry works out what is important to their consumers domestically and abroad. The next challenge is to report robustly on those ‘material’ issues.

“At the beginning our experience is that metrics are not available for all the indicators that have been agreed on. It sets in train a process of continuous improvement and that is where the magic is. Eg. Lost days from accidents at work is a very important metric for agricultural industries. Reporting it will lead to actions to improve the area.”

Ms Corrigan will speak to the conference on sustainability, governance and ESG production systems.

“The main industries are developing ESG reporting sustainability frameworks,” she said.

“The data is collected at an industry level rather than at a farm level. Each farmer can acquaint themselves with the issues in their industry and decide what to do about it. For example, in the merino industry, the highest material issue is animal care, particularly removing mulesing. Decisions are made at a farm level which feed into industry data.”

Convenor on behalf of the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Chris Mirams, said the conference would be of interest to every producer and supply chain participant.

“ESG is a stakeholder-centric, socially-conscious approach to doing business,” Mr Mirams said.

“We are bringing together leading farmers and participants in the red meat and wool industries to help us understand and navigate the world of ESG.”

Other speakers at the conference include:

  • Rosemary Bissett - Head ESG Risk Management, National Australia Bank;
  • Sam Churchill - Group Manager Sustainability, JBS;
  • Jason Colosimo - Head of Commercial and Strategy, Coles;
  • Edwina Clowes - Manager Sustainability Frameworks and Stakeholders, Meat & Livestock Australia;
  • Scott Williams - Chair Sheep Sustainability Framework Steering Committee
  • Mark Symes - Wool Manager, Schneider Group;
  • Alison Kelly - Farm Emissions Specialist, Agriculture Victoria

Topics for discussion included on the program are:

  • Introduction to ESG, global trends, challenges and opportunities
  • ESG implications for our red meat and wool supply chains
  • Meeting customer expectations, market access & social licence
  • The role of sustainability frameworks
  • What our top farmers are doing now
  • On Farm Emissions
  • Q&A Panel Session

Tickets for the conference cost $23pp plus booking fee. A dinner will be held on the evening of 28 July at the Albury Club costing $40pp plus booking fee (drinks extra), featuring Sam Burke, Product & Business Manager and Corporate Chef, MLA.

Tickets are now available at https://events.humanitix.com/esg-in-agriculture

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