AgForce asking governments to consider AgCarE: an ecoservices payment system for everyone

The rhetoric on climate in the lead up to COP26 is heating up – and between now and 31 October it’s only going to get hotter.

That’s why AgForce is continuing to work with the National Farmers’ Federation and other industry organisations to lobby Government to ensure agriculture receives due recognition for what it has already done on climate – and, importantly, to secure equal partner status in any discussions around what we as a nation do moving forward.

We need guarantees that farmers’ property rights won’t be further eroded to absolve other sectors of their emission-reduction responsibilities – and we need appropriate payment for landowners who currently continue to do all of the heavy lifting for the rest of the country.

That’s where AgForce’s AgCarE program comes in.

It’s our response to our membership’s frustration at not being able to access currently available carbon markets – like the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund – because the cost and complexity of doing so is prohibitive for most family farming operations in Queensland.

AgCarE on the other hand has been deliberately developed as a mid-tier system that acknowledges and rates property performance for building natural capital – it’s suitable for properties at all levels, regardless of commodity.

The program provides low cost, medium risk options for carbon abatement, drought mitigation, improved biodiversity, and sustainable long-term landscape management and business resilience.

AgCarE also focuses on the water cycle at property level – supporting sustainable production, biodiversity, and helping play a role towards reducing global warming.

A major benefit of AgCarE is that industry would retain control of its ecosystem services, not be dictated to by big business or government, who could potentially force upon it yet more regulation, unworkable environmental schemes, and unwanted stewardship agreements.

AgForce has been developing AgCarE since 2019, and we’re now at the important stage of carrying out on-property testing with landholders to make sure the science behind it is verifiable, repeatable, and accurate – the three tenets of any scientific research worth its salt.

With support from the Queensland Government’s Land Restoration Fund the first round of testing was held across 12 local government areas on 37 properties covering more than 580,000 hectares, and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has now sought to support a second round.

With AgCarE due to hit the marketplace next year, AgForce is well on the way to equipping all landowners in Queensland with the tools they need to establish an increased range of income streams, as well as improved risk profiling by banks, while providing them with long overdue recognition of the fantastic work they’ve been doing for years to enhance and protect our precious environment.

History has shown that cutting farmers out of the conversation on climate leads to poor uptake of the very systems designed for them – largely because removing consultation and collaboration results in programs that are either inappropriate or plainly don’t work.

That’s why we’re asking governments to consider implementing AgCarE as soon as it’s available.

Our farmers – as responsible custodians of the land and our nation’s true environmentalists – will never shy away from playing their part when it comes to helping reduce our country’s carbon emissions.

But there comes a point (and we’re well past it by the way) when you look around at what everyone else ISN’T doing and start to feel like you’re simply being taken advantage of.

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