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CPRS hamstrings agriculture, solution needed outside the box

24 February 2009

“THE Federal Government must think outside the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) prism if it is serious about reducing emissions” – that’s the message the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) will take to Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and Agriculture Minister Tony Burke in Canberra tomorrow.

“With politicians debating the pros and cons of emissions trading versus carbon taxes, greenhouse targets and espousing their respective green credentials, one thing they do agree on is that the proposed CPRS simply won’t work for agriculture,” NFF President David Crombie said.

“The CPRS is not a silver bullet. In fact, alternative policies, running alongside and complementary with the CPRS, will be essential for reducing global emissions without slashing production and productivity in the process.

“New research, released this week by the Australian Farm Institute, reveals Australia’s agricultural exports – worth $30 billion a year to our national economy – will cop a hiding in an environment where most of our international competitors will not impose an equivalent emission scheme.

“The report quantifies the massive costs Australian agriculture will bear under the CPRS, reducing the value of Australian agricultural production by $2.4 billion a year by 2020, and $10.9 billion a year by 2030.

“That’s an economic cost that will severely hit the 315,000 direct employees on Australian farms, not to mention the flow on impact to the 1.6 million jobs across the rest of economy that hinge on agricultural production.

“If the Government is serious about carbon reduction and capture strategies, as opposed to just putting in place an emissions trading scheme, then all workable options must be on the table.

“There is universal recognition that agriculture cannot be covered under an emissions trading scheme due to many impediments, including measuring, monitoring and verifying emissions across 155,000 farms.

“Yet, equally, that storage of carbon in soils, crops and pastures is a reality, requiring greater research and development investment to quantify the carbon capture.

“Meanwhile, the Government should incentivise those practices we know can measurably reduce greenhouse gases by annexing agriculture’s sequestration ability alongside its CPRS. That is, provide incentives for farmers to voluntarily take up those carbon saving practices. The US and Canada are already implementing such incentives.

“For example, feed supplements reduce methane emissions from livestock and new grazing and cropping land management systems enhance on-farm carbon reduction and carbon storage measures, respectively. The Government cannot – must not – close the door on these viable options... to do so would be myopic and irresponsible.

“Given the massive extra costs farmers will incur even though they are not covered by the CPRS, if they are to invest in such high cost carbon reduction strategies they need a commercial incentive to do so.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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