National Farmers' Federation

Statement by NFF CEO Tony Mahar on agriculture and emissions

The NFF’s climate policy is clear: farming and agriculture cannot be worse off going forward with any carbon commitments or emissions reduction schemes.

The NFF has a clear climate change policy that supports an economy-wide NCZ 2050 target with two clear caveats – that there is an economically viable pathway forward and agriculture is not worse off.

Agriculture is in a unique position – different to any other industry, in that farmers can sequester carbon and reduce emissions. Agriculture is too important to leave out and too important to ignore.

Agriculture has been hurt in the past, through the Kyoto experience, when farmers were left carrying the burden of the nation’s emissions reduction task. That simply can’t be allowed to happen again.

Between 1996 and 2016, agriculture has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 63 per cent. The red meat sector has reduced CO2e- emissions by 56.7 per cent since 2005.

Farmers are in the box seat to seize the opportunities from a reduced emissions future – and many are already doing just that. Any policy that restricts opportunities available to farmers and rural and regional communities would clearly be a negative outcome.  

A demonstrated proactive approach to emissions reduction, is also a factor for continued and expanded access to valuable export markets.

There is a lot of positive work underway, led by both government and industry, to establish the benchmarks and frameworks needed to measure agriculture’s contribution to sequestering and reducing emissions, particularly in the highly complex area of soil carbon.

It is important this work is completed before determining agriculture’s role in any national emissions reduction target. Time to develop better decision tools and continue to explore innovation leaps, and then implement them, are very important in the complex world of agriculture.

Care needs to be taken that agricultural land does not get transferred into carbon sinks that are subeconomic, havens for feral plants and animals and a fire risk. Offsetting is a legitimate solution that must meet economic viability thresholds that allow benchmarked income and proper management.

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