National Farmers' Federation

Safeguard mechanism needs to be safe for agriculture

As changes to the Safeguard Mechanism enter the home stretch in Parliament, farmers are warning that the impacts of a turbocharged offsets market need to be considered.

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar said while agriculture was excluded from safeguard mechanism requirements, the 215 emitters it captures will be hungry for offsets from farmland.

“The safeguard mechanism will turbo charge demand for offsets, and with few other options on the table, emitters will look to farmland,” Mr Mahar said

“Offsets from farmland are the ‘net’ in the government’s ‘net zero’ plan.

“This will potentially escalate land use conflict, with pressure to turn food and fibre producing land into carbon sinks to counter the emissions from other industries.

“Farmers are serious about responding to climate change, but we have to ensure progress on climate doesn’t come at the cost of food security.

“It’s critical that government avoids a mass buy-up of productive farmland – including using the ministerial veto for projects exceeding 30% of a farm if necessary,” Mr Mahar warned.

The NFF is concerned that some provisions in the deal between the Government and the Greens may lead to perverse outcomes.

“We do not support any freeze on using the human induced reforestation methodology. 

“We don’t want a scenario where senators rather than scientists are determining carbon market rules. Instead, Government should follow through with implementation of the Chubb Review. 

“We do, however, we support the review of methane measurement.”

In the face of a growing global population and rising food prices, Mr Mahar said we must be very careful not to jeopardise our ability to sustainably grow food and fibre.

“We need to find the balance between delivering carbon offsets and meeting our global food and fibre demands.

“Importantly, this also means supporting farmers to make informed business decisions about their participation in carbon markets. That’s why we’re calling for greater investment in on-ground extension services.”