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Election 2019: Farmers perplexed at being left out of Labor's environment announcement

6 May 2019

Despite owning or managing more than 50% of Australia's land mass, farmers are concerned that agriculture was not referenced in the Australian Labor Party's $1 billion weekend environment announcement.

National Farmers' Federation President Fiona Simson said while Labor had repeatedly assured the farm sector that agriculture would not be directly impacted by its climate policy, an air of uncertainty remained.

"Everyday farmers are caring for the environment for the benefit of all Australians. It's strange, to say the least, that this role was not recognised in this policy announcement."

Ms Simson said the NFF's fear was that agriculture would be called on, without consultation, to do the heavy lifting as it was during the Kyoto commitment periods.

"In 2019, agriculture is well advanced in response to the challenge of climate change.

"As part of our vision for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030, the industry has a goal to be trending towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

"The NFF is also working on a natural capital policy aimed at valuing and monetising ecosystem services which provides diversified income streams for farmers and inevitably, better environmental outcomes.

"We are pleased that a $30 million biodiversity stewardship fund to do just this, has bi-partisan support."

Ms Simson said the NFF supported a market-based approach to emissions reduction.

"Market-based solutions are a much more sensible way of achieving enhanced environmental outcomes than command and control legislation. Farmers value natural assets and will continue to lead the way in delivering environmental outcomes on the ground.

"To this end, the NFF welcomes Labor's commitments to further investment in Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies and the exclusion of agriculture from the safeguard mechanism.

"We nevertheless remain very concerned at proposals in regards to native vegetation."

Ms Simson said earlier announcements by Labor proposing the national adoption of Queensland's flawed vegetation laws, including the misleading Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) assessment tool would be a regressive step.

"Farmers are under enough pressure from drought, flood and fire without the Government further intervening in how properties are managed.

"The devil will be in the detail of this policy. One thing is certain, farmers cannot be used as scapegoats again."

Ms Simson said given agriculture's large role in managing Australia's natural assets, the NFF looked forward to being closely consulted by all parties in regards to energy and climate policy and to having farmers' concerns listened to and valued.

Explore our Agriculture: Growing Australian election priorities at farmers.org.au.

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace
0408 448 250

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