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Farmers welcome exclusion from direct carbon burden but remain concerned by land clearing overtones

1 April 2019

The Australian Labor Party's climate change policy detail released today provides a comprehensive framework and pathway forward.

National Farmers' Federation Chief Executive Officer Tony Mahar particularly welcomed Labor's commitment to exclude agriculture from the so-called 'Safeguard Mechanism' changes.

"An assurance that agriculture won't directly bear any additional burden in reaching Labor's proposed 45% emissions reduction target by 2030 is positive as is a guarantee that a carbon tax or a carbon pricing mechanism will not be introduced.

"We do however have reservations about the impact a 45% target could have on agriculture as a participant in the value chain. For example, increased fuel transport or electricity costs are likely to have a consequential impact on the agricultural sector. "

Mr Mahar said the NFF supported the renewed focus on carbon farming initiative methodologies to the value of $40 million.

"This will provide the opportunity to refine and expand options for land-based abatement."

While the lack of further funding support for an emissions reduction fund was disappointing, the NFF noted that the increased requirement under the Safeguard Mechanism should create more private sector demand.

"Our vision for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 requires getting the land use balance right - a combination of diversifying income streams and growing agriculture through technology and intensification."

"The NFF cautiously welcomes the availability of international credits, we are aware that there is not yet an international framework to assess credible credits. We will need to determine and or maintain credible assessment.

"The NFF view is that international credits are not sufficiently credible and some market distortion is likely possible given how robust Australian Carbon Credit Units are considered to be."

Mr Mahar said the NFF's main reservation on a first reading of the policy was the focus on land clearing.

"This is especially worrying given the news that excess Kyoto credits will not be counted towards the Paris commitment. The majority of the Kyoto credits were gained from prevention of land clearing through a legal framework which offered no compensation for a removed property right."

The NFF welcomed Labor Agriculture Spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon's commitment to rewarding farmers for the environmental benefits they deliver everyday on behalf of all Australians.

"The NFF has long campaigned to have biodiversity assets and efforts financially recognised and we were delighted to have Mr Fitzgibbon confirm his support for a significant agriculture biodiversity stewardship fund last week," Mr Mahar said.

"This seems to be a key component of the ALP's proposed changes to environmental law structure.

"We reiterate the need to include the farm sector in the discussion to ensure agriculture is never again used as a scapegoat to achieve climate outcomes without reward."

Mr Mahar also positively noted Labor's commitment to measures to support a more sustainable forestry industry and an investment of $2 million in the red meat sector's carbon-neutral-by-2030 target.

"We'll have more to say on the policy proposal, pending further analysis.

"The NFF has, and will continue to, ensure agriculture has a strong voice in our nation's prolonged climate and energy policy 'debate'," Mr Mahar said.

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
P 0408 448 250
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