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Little action on agriculture in global carbon mitigation

9 June 2011

Today’s Productivity Commission report on international climate change policies highlights the relative lack of exposure for the world’s farmers to climate mitigation schemes, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) says.

The report shows that with the exception of New Zealand, countries across the globe recognise that emissions reductions in agriculture must be firmly balanced against the important role the farm sector plays in meeting the world’s food and fibre needs.

NFF President Jock Laurie said that today’s report highlights the measures that other countries are taking to ensure their farmers do not face additional costs under any proposed carbon mitigation schemes.

“Overwhelmingly, the world appears to be developing climate policies that recognise the importance of agriculture and deliberately prevent additional costs being added into their farmers’ businesses,” Mr Laurie said.

“In Australia, while agriculture’s direct emissions have been excluded from the Government’s proposed carbon tax, we are concerned that indirect costs will be added back into the business of our farmers – farmers that have spent decades removing costs and becoming as efficient as possible in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” Mr Laurie said.

The Productivity Commission report comes following the NFF’s release of two papers in a series of research on the impact of the proposed carbon tax on Australia’s agricultural industry. The papers have shown that Australian farmers could face significant increases in costs under the proposed tax.

“Other countries must be amazed that Australia would even contemplate putting our agricultural industry’s enviable competitive position at risk,” Mr Laurie said.

“Not only do our farmers export some 60 percent of all our produce, we do some in the most distorted sector of international trade. We are very exposed to international markets, as opposed to many of our global competitors who hide behind high levels of government protection.

“The report also highlights that research is one of the key elements that other countries are using to reduce emissions in agriculture.

“We believe these factors are critical and must be taken into account by the Government in the design of Australia’s carbon mitigation policy,” Mr Laurie said.

“After all, as the rest of the international community understands only too well, food is special and policy makers must be wary when tampering with the systems that produce it.”

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