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The consensus is farmers are part of the solution

23 July 2010

“BUILDING community consensus around climate change action is a reasonable proposition,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie observed of the Prime Minister’s Citizens’ Assembly announcement today.

“But it will be absolutely critical regional Australia and farmers are centrally involved. We live and work with the climate every day, we’re good at managing carbon and we are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

“Further, building consensus domestically is only one piece of the jigsaw. Farmers will be asking about the Prime Minister’s plan for building international consensus, particularly around the approach to agriculture and the flawed international Kyoto rules. That’s the real challenge. In reality, global agreement and clarity on what international governments are prepared to do together on climate change is vital.

“Until we have a global solution, Australia going it alone would be reckless and irresponsible. In that, there is already a clear consensus among Australians.”

Based on the policies put by Labor to date, the NFF says:

  • The NFF welcomed the amendments to the CPRS (e.g. removing agriculture’s direct emissions from the CPRS cap, providing an offset mechanism to reward abatement by farmers, additional R&D for agricultural mitigation measures, assistance for food processors to reduce emissions).
  • Despite the amendments to the CPRS bill, that removed a large portion of the risks facing farmers, the NFF has been of the view that the CPRS in its entirety would still lead to additional indirect costs for Australia farmers that outweigh the potential benefits for most farmers (particularly while the international carbon accounting rules remain as they are).
  • The NFF’s primary concerns relate to the impact of the CPRS on farmers competitiveness on international markets, particularly from the impact on processing costs.
  • For this reason we have not supported the CPRS and have welcomed the decision to delay introducing the CPRS Bill – a decision reinforced in today’s speech by the Prime Minister.
  • The NFF believes that any “citizens’ assembly” as described today by the Prime Minister must have a proportionate representation from the farm sector, particularly given the enormous contribution agriculture has already played in the reduction of our carbon emissions.
  • The $1 billion Connecting Renewables initiative, to bring more renewable energy onto the national grid earlier, is positive. Much of these renewables are in regional communities and will broaden the scope for projects around biomass energy creation.
  • The commitment to provide credit for abatement undertaken prior to the introduction of the CPRS unfortunately does not appear to apply to rewarding early abatement actions by sectors outside the CPRS cap – including agriculture. We need clarity on this.

“We await further climate change policy announcements from Labor on the specifics of how they would treat agriculture,” Mr Crombie said.

“We also await clear recognition of these challenges and opportunities in the Coalition’s and Greens’ election commitments.”

[ENDS]

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