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Carbon price deal: agriculture excluded, but farmers wary

24 February 2011

A DEAL between the Gillard Government, the Greens and Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott to set a carbon price from 1 July 2012 that excludes agriculture has met with caution from Australia’s peak farm body.

“Our full Members’ Council met in Canberra today and considered the Prime Minister’s announcement,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Jock Laurie said. “As expected, the Government has honoured its pledge that Australia’s farm sector be excluded from the direct impacts of its carbon policies.

“The Government recognises the complexities faced by farmers and has guaranteed that the sectors’ direct emissions will not be covered under the proposed cap and trade scheme.

“Nevertheless, today’s announcement will cause angst for many and the NFF remains concerned about the potentially detrimental impact a carbon price may have on the Australian economy and farmers’ ability to compete on international markets.

“Despite the hype surrounding the Carbon Farming Initiative, farmers are under no illusion that it will insulate us from the impacts of a carbon price. In fact, it won’t. Farmers’ are exposed to energy and energy-related costs – including electricity, fuel and fertiliser… all are fundamental to farming and all will soar under the proposal announced today.

“Going down any path towards carbon abatement must be in step with a global response, lest we be hung out to dry.

“The need to produce more food and fibre than ever before to feed and clothe more people than ever before, is paramount. The United Nations estimates the world’s farmers need to produce 70% more food between now and 2050 just to keep pace with population growth.

“Australia’s farmers are world-renowned as leaders in high quality, efficient and sustainable food and fibre production. Our politicians must ensure that a cap and trade scheme does not hamper those vital endeavours.

“The Government must ensure that, in any scheme’s design, it does not impinge upon Australian farmers’ ability to remain at the forefront in meeting Australia’s and the world’s mounting food need.

“Farmers will, therefore, need to have a seat at that table in developing the yet-to-be-seen detail around today’s proposal to ensure its feasibility and to ensure our farmers’ future – and Australia’s food production – is secure.”

[ENDS]

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