National Farmers' Federation

Farmers seek reassurance on climate change and sustainability

The NFF is calling for both parties to reiterate their commitment to working with farmers to navigate climate risk and capture the diverse new income opportunities on offer.

“According to the ABC’s Vote Compass 57% of people surveyed think agriculture is doing its fair share or more on climate action, higher than business in general (43%), other countries (33%) or the general public (52%),” NFF President Fiona Simson said.

“This public recognition must be backed up with continuing support from Australia’s next Parliament. The NFF has supported an all-economy net zero emissions by 2050 target since 2020.

“Our support includes two clear caveats: 1) there is an articulated economic pathway forward and 2) farmers don’t suffer at the hands of draconian green tape.

“Right now, we’re on one side of the river waiting for help to build the bridge to get across.

“That bridge is investment in innovation in better ways to measure and understand soil carbon; manage livestock emissions and improving and developing new methodologies to better understand the Emissions Reduction Fund.

“Both the Coalition and Labor have climate plans and we recognise the significant and appropriate current investment in this area. However, to date in this campaign, we’ve heard no comforting words about what more in the future.”

Ms Simson said the NFF was looking for current commitments to go further and provide the long-term support agriculture needs for adjust and transition in a reduced-emission economy.

“We welcome initiatives that provide greater independent advice for the farm sector, so they know what they have, what their options are and the risks and opportunities of participating in these ‘new commodities’.

“The NFF supported Independent Member for Indi, Helen Haines’ proposal last week for regional independent extension officers to assist farmers to better understand carbon both from an on-farm and market perspective. There were similar commitments in the recent Federal Budget, so we expect this to have broad political support.”

Ms Simson said an ERF with integrity and transparency was important.

“In the next Parliament the NFF would likely support ERF reform that includes changing the tax treatment of carbon and biodiversity to make it consistent with other commodities; expanding the market opportunities for biodiversity and other natural capital assets and ensuring sensible exclusions are maintained. Those processes have already commenced and need to be pursued sensibly and consultatively.”

Ms Simson emphasised the relationship between agriculture and the environment must be holistic and also extend to include serious investment in long-term feral plant and animal suppression, as well as managing landscapes to minimise fuel loads to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire and the commensurate destruction of biodiversity.

“These are but a few of the issues that need sensible and well-funded policy responses. The NFF reiterates its call for a commitment to long-term funding for the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, which provides national collaborative research for a long-term pipeline of innovation to help meet invasive species challenges.

“Farmers are already leading the field on climate action and are ready to do more. But we won’t do it alone, again. We will be watching closely for overreach on ambition for agriculture or expecting the ag sector to be the solution for everyone else’s obligations.

“Farmers produce food and fibre for the world’s growing population. Adjusting to climate change must complement not challenge this and be both environmentally and economically sustainable,” Ms Simson said.

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