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NFF throws support behind a national emissions trading scheme

4 April 2007

MANAGING over 60% of Australia's landmass, perhaps the biggest potential threat to the future of Australian farmers is increased global climate variability.

Farmers, however, have both the experience and on-the-ground knowledge to greatly contribute to any national effort to reduce greenhouse emissions.

"The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) will support a national emissions trading scheme that recognises the role agriculture has already played in limiting Australian greenhouse emissions," NFF President David Crombie said.

In its submission to the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading, the NFF highlighted the need for considerable care in the development of a scheme to ensure that outcomes are environmentally effective and sustainable while at the same time taking into account the economic and social implications.

The NFF also proposes that farmers should not be direct participants in a national emissions trading scheme. Rather, Australian farmers can play a key part by marketing eligible 'off-set credits' to enable scheme participants to achieve a net reduction in their annual emissions.

"Everyday farmers make crucial decisions about their businesses based on seasonal and weather outlooks," mr Crombie noted.

"Agriculture is significant both in terms of the greenhouse emissions attributed to the sector and the potential we have to sequester or abate greenhouse emissions. Farmers must, therefore, be centrally involved in the development of any scheme.

"Any strategy to reduce net greenhouse emissions should not rely solely on emissions trading, but involve significant public investment in research to develop new low-carbon technologies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions while maintaining or improving productive output and economic competitiveness.

"Farmers also require an ongoing dedicated research effort into identifying new ways in which farmers can sequester or abate greenhouse emissions as well as accurately measure them coupled with actions that enhance farm productivity – much like what has been invested in other Australian industries.

"Australia's primary sector has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 40% over the past 15 years. Not only have farmers put a halt to land-clearing, but we've gone the other way, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics recording that Australian farmers plant over 20 million trees-a-year, solely for conservation purposes.

"It is essential that governments provide full recognition of this annual contribution by agriculture and develop mechanisms that address the enormous inequity of this imposition.

"Australian farmers have proven their ability to play a crucial role in significantly reducing greenhouse emissions.

"We are ready and willing to now play a part in the development of an Australia-wide effort to address the threat of climate change and embrace any opportunities it may present."

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Emma Keogh on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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