FARMER lobby group Grain Growers has launched a drive to develop a new industry sustainability framework, looking at issues such as social licence for grain producers, by the end of the year.
The organisation launched its push, called Behind Australian Grain, at this year's Australian Grains Industry Conference earlier in the month.
"It's about taking snapshots of current practices, challenges and opportunities within the cropping sector and finding what perceptions are, from both the community and from producers," Grain Growers chairman Brett Hosking said.
"We want to understand the concerns of the community on hot topics within the industry - there are a lot of things to look at, such as chemical use, biotechnology, land clearing and water use."
He said from there it would be a matter of either getting on the front foot to tell the story of why the practice was used and why it was a positive for the community or looking at the feedback and potentially adjusting.
"For instance, with glyphosate, perhaps we need to tell our story better and talk about the environmental benefits in terms of minimising erosion risk, or why biotech crops play a role in our system," Mr Hosking said.
"Or perhaps we may find that following the feedback we look at some things and think 'maybe we can do that better' and adjust accordingly."
Mr Hosking said a closer alignment of farmer and consumer sentiment would be beneficial for all.
"Sometimes what we consider is best practice does not meet community expectations and that is not necessarily anyone's fault, perhaps we have not told our story about what we do and why well enough, these are all things to look at with social licence becoming increasingly important."
Along with domestic consumers, Mr Hosking said Grain Growers hoped to survey export markets and see what their expectations of the Australian grains industry were.
In terms of implementing the project KPMG has been engaged to work alongside Grain Growers and key stakeholders to establish a common framework for identifying, measuring and reporting against the sustainability priorities for the sector.
Grain Growers is hopeful the project can demonstrate the grains industry is serious about sustainability.
Richard Boele, KPMG partner, spoke at AGIC about sustainability drivers.
"My message to the industry is clear; the time to be proactive and ensure you're on the front foot is now and not in the middle of a crisis" he said.
Mr Hosking said he hoped Behind Australian Grain was up and running by the end of the year.