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Coalition’s agriculture amendments make good policy sense

19 October 2009

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is calling on the Rudd Government to respond favourably to the Coalition’s proposed agriculture amendments, saying they make economic and environmental sense for the country, not just farmers.

“Let’s be clear, the objective is to reduce emissions. Farmers and agriculture are part of the solution,” NFF President David Crombie said. “We have a demonstrable record in positively managing carbon. However, we have been consistent and clear that the CPRS in its current form doesn’t work for agriculture.

“When you consider this in the context that the world needs food and fibre now, and that by 2050 there will be 9 billion mouths to feed and bodies to clothe, failure to account for agriculture’s needs would be economically and environmentally irresponsible.

“The NFF has proposed that like Australia’s major competitors, direct emissions from agriculture should be excluded permanently from the CPRS cap. While the present legislation does not ‘include’ agricultural emissions, as Minister Wong protests, the intent in the Government’s White Paper is ‘predisposed’ to coverage.

“We now know through extensive modelling and our global competitors ruling out covering their farm sectors, that covering Australian farming’s direct emissions would be catastrophic for our farmers and the communities and jobs they support.

“The NFF, therefore, supports the Coalition’s amendment on excluding agriculture’s coverage.

“The NFF has always been clear that excluding agriculture’s direct emissions doesn’t mean that agriculture is not willing to make a further contribution to solving the greenhouse gas pollution challenge. Indeed, the NFF asserts that agriculture has the potential to be a major player – remembering that the only reason the Australian Government can currently say it is on track to meet its Kyoto targets is on the back of the contribution of primary industry.

“The CPRS Bill needs to allow the flexibility for alternative, incentive-driven, market based carbon mitigation mechanisms, such as off-sets, to be recognised from the agriculture sector.

“Finally, anything that impacts negatively on the international competitiveness of the agricultural processing sector will, invariably, be passed straight back to farmers in the form of lower prices. The Government must, therefore, recognise the integrated nature of the agricultural supply chain in determining the framework for its Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed (EITE) compensation provisions.

“The NFF will continue to work with all political parties to ensure that agriculture is part of the solution not part of the problem on this issue. As a start the Coalitions proposed amendments make good policy sense and we call on the Government to embrace them.”

[ENDS]

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

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