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Rule agriculture out of CPRS, farmers tell Govt

6 August 2009

TODAY the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) declared that international developments have overtaken the Australian Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) as far as agriculture in concerned, petitioning key Ministers to “carve agriculture’s direct emissions out permanently”.

“As the CPRS currently stands, agriculture won’t be covered until 2015 at the earliest... if at all,” NFF President David Crombie explained. “But the US, UK, Canada and countries across Europe have already ruled out covering their direct agricultural emissions under a cap and trade system.

“With the international goal posts shifting so dramatically, our Government must respond and eliminate all uncertainty around its 2015 deadline so our farmers can proceed on an equal footing with our major trading partners.

“A level or, at least, consistent playing field is a minimum requirement for any Australian emissions trading scheme regarding the treatment of agriculture. Due to the essential need to produce more food for a world population that will increase 50% by 2050 – that’s nine billion mouths to feed – our international counterparts are categorically excluding agriculture’s direct emissions from their schemes.

“Australia confronts the same food security responsibility. In addition, any move towards CPRS coverage of Australia’s farm sector, while other countries do not, will put 1.6 million Australian jobs and $32 billion-a-year in farm exports at risk.

“Australian farmers are willing to do more to curb emissions. The NFF has worked constructively with the Government, principally Ministers Wong and Burke, on viable options for Australia’s $103 billion-a-year farm sector, but our international partners have now declared their hands well ahead of the Copenhagen meeting in December.

“Australia would be going it alone on agriculture, which is completely untenable. One size doesn’t fit all and the CPRS doesn’t work for agriculture.

“But farmers can reduce greenhouse emissions, so we’re calling on our Government to be flexible in how Australian farmers achieve that goal.

“In light of international developments, the Government must eliminate agriculture from CPRS coverage and, instead, adopt an alternate, but consistent, approach of providing farmers with incentive-based means of reducing emissions.

“We believe alternatives exist that would see Australia’s 150,000 farms actively pursue even lower emission activities – remembering Australian farmers are already world-leaders in low emissions farm systems – while still maintaining and, indeed, growing vital food and fibre production.

“A carrot approach is a far more effective strategy than the ‘big stick’ approach and mirrors the route being taken in the US, UK, Europe and Canada.

“Australian farmers can, and should, be a positive part of the solution. Farms, as biological systems, emit carbon but, unlike other sectors, also absorb it back into soils, pastures, crops and trees.

“This approach we’re taking to the Government closes the gap between the global response and the CPRS.”

Farm production in Australia underpins $103 billion-a-year in economic activity, 12% of GDP, $32 billion-a-year in exports (projected 2009-10), 1.6 million Australian jobs (over 300,000 direct on farms), and supplies 93% of Australia’s daily food requirements.

For more detail, see the NFF’s CPRS Position Statement at: Agriculture and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

[ENDS]

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

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