This election farmers are seeking clear guidance on each party’s vision for agriculture’s role in Australia’s response to climate change.
NFF President Fiona Simson said entering week four of the campaign, there had so far been radio silence from both sides.
“Farmers manage 55 per cent of the Australian landscape and have led the way in emissions reduction, while continuing to grow farm production volumes and values to unprecedented levels.
“From Australia’s next Parliament we’re seeking support to help agriculture go further. We want to transform the treatment of agriculture and its intersection with biodiversity protection and enhancement and further develop the developing natural capital sector.
“For too long Government has wielded a big stick over farmers heads with draconian out of touch legislation.
“In reality, every day farmers are voluntarily doing the heavy lifting on managing soils, pests and waterways on behalf of all Australians. It’s time they were recognised for this work and incentivised to do more.”
The NFF wants a commitment from both sides of politics for a minimum $2 billion fund to reward land managers who improve the health of their landscape.
Ms Simson said while the government should be an ongoing investor in outcomes, the key focus had to be on developing, facilitating and proving the range of developing schemes.
“The NFF has been working with the Government on the development of the Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework.
“A multi-million dollar commitment is now needed to build on this work and bring the framework and a further developed trading platform to life and to advance the Carbon + Biodiversity, enhanced remnant vegetation and other initiatives.
“The C+B project was established to see farmers realise both the opportunities of carbon markets and to be rewarded via public and private avenues for positive environmental management.
Queensland cattle producer Melinee Leather is a land manager who would benefit from such a partnership approach.
“A healthy farm environment is intrinsically linked to the production and profitability of our farm operation and something that is core business for us” Melinee said.
“We’re a family run business and always thinking about how we set the property up for long-term sustainability.
“We use Leucaena as a pasture option because it’s one of the most sustainable legumes available, it’s high in protein and helps us reach our carbon neutral goals by reducing methane emissions by around 20-40% while the woody vegetation sequesters carbon as part of the natural cycle.
“Access to a supportive fund, as proposed by the NFF, would be a game changer for us and enable our family to do more to enhance our farm’s natural environment.
“During the next 10 years we hope to show how our biodiversity, water quality and farm productivity is improving – all whilst demonstrating that we can be carbon neutral,” Melinee said.
“What we really want to showcase is how productive cattle grazing can go hand in hand with addressing climate challenges. And as we protect and improve these assets the shared value needs to be realised in a mature marketplace.”
Ms Simson said it was disappointing that farmers like Melinee had to date heard very little from either party on their plan for agriculture’s inclusion in Australia’s reduced emissions future.
“The NFF has done the hard work and laid out a clear plan for how agriculture can continue to part of the solution, while continuing to grow our profitability and productivity.
“The world is trending towards a marked-based system for valuing natural capital.
“The next Government must commit to lead on this development and empower farmers to sustain and enhance their natural and agricultural landscapes.”