Leading the charge towards net zero in agriculture

18 January 2024

Highly regarded agricultural identity Richard Heath will head the newly funded Zero Net Emissions Agricultural Cooperative Research Centre (ZNE-Ag CRC) as it begins its work to reduce emissions in Australian agriculture.

The former Australian Farm Institute Executive Director will take up his new role as CEO in March.

Headshot of Richard Heath standing in a field smiling at the camera
Incoming ZNE-Ag CRC CEO Richard Heath 

ZNE-Ag CRC Chair Deb Cousins said Mr Heath was recruited after an extensive search.

“Richard brings strong sector and leadership expertise to this new role,” Ms Cousins said.

“He also has a passion for sustainable agriculture, given his experience as a farmer and industry advocate.

“We very much look forward to his contribution.”

Mr Heath said he was relishing the challenge of leading the $300 million collaborative venture.

“The CRC is very important to the future of agriculture in Australia,” Mr Heath said.

“Our agricultural and production systems and capacity are under threat from climate change, and we must act now to protect the future of one of the country’s most important sectors.

“We will coordinate an industry-led approach to help safeguard the profitability and marketing access of Australian agri-businesses as we make the transition to net zero.”

The ZNE-Ag CRC was brokered by The University of Queensland and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, with a consortium of 73 partners across industry, government and education.

The Australian Government’s CRC contribution of $87 million is the largest in the program’s history.

Mr Heath said ZNE-Ag will support the industry to achieve emissions targets in Australian agriculture by 2030 and 2050.

“Our trading partners also look to us as a source of science and technology, so it will strengthen our capacity to engage with our neighbours to help with their efforts in the same direction,” he said.

“The CRC will deliver standardised, trusted guidelines, metrics and benchmarking tools to monitor on-farm emissions and accelerate Australian agriculture’s transition to net zero and beyond.”

Media: Natalie MacGregor, n.macgregor@uq.edu.au, +61 409 135 651 or Carolyn Martin, carolyn.martin@uq.edu.au, +61 439 399 886.