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Farmers seek assurances that Labor's environment law plans won't impede growth
18 December 2018
The National Farmers' Federation has acknowledged the Australian Labor' Party's intention to overhaul Australia's environment laws and to establish a new Federal Environmental Protection Agency.
NFF Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar said both proposals, which were supported at the Party's conference over the weekend, needed careful thought, comprehensive consultation and, if proceeded with, smooth implementation.
"Any new environmental legislation or framework being proposed must recognise the critical, active role farmers play in achieving positive environmental outcomes," Mr Mahar said.
"Farmers are stewards for about 50 per cent of Australia's landmass and the ongoing benefits of sustainable agriculture need to be well articulated in any proposed law change."
Mr Mahar said environmental stewardship was what farmers did every day and measures, such as including payments for delivering environmental outcomes, should be part of any new proposals.
"There is now a clear demonstration in valuing and monetising environmental management through the investment in carbon sequestration and the emissions reduction fund.
"It is time to extend this to biophysical assets including threatened species and ecological communities."
The NFF is calling for the recent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, carried out by Dr Wendy Craik, to be positively acted upon.
"We are asking Environment Minister, Melissa Price to release the resulting report to provide a pathway forward for the relationship between environment law and the farm sector."
The NFF's recommendations to the agriculture specific review of the EPBC Act included: investment in more accurate mapping; the creation of an Environmental Stewardship Fund and better communications between the Department and landholders.
"The NFF has established a Roadmap for Australian agriculture to achieve a farm gate value of $100 billion by 2030, which we are pleased to note has bipartisan support.
"The plan includes actions to establish a Government-backed Environmental Stewardship Fund, aimed at seeding a marketplace for private sector investment with a proposed metric of five per cent of farm revenue delivered from ecosystem services."
Mr Mahar said the NFF would be seeking to consult closely with Labor on what appear to be very significant changes to the Federal environmental legislative framework.
"We look forward to understanding the specific intentions of the proposals and policy settings announced on the weekend and their potential negative impact on the growth of the agriculture sector.
"In the immediate term we will be seeking assurances from the Labor party that the proposed changes will not result in any additional limitations on agriculture's ability to achieve $100 billion in farmgate output by 2030 or place unnecessary 'green' tape on the industry."
"As significant stakeholders in land management in Australia, farmers and the NFF expect to be closely engaged in any negotiations that take place," Mr Mahar said
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