Australia’s largest agricultural advocacy body has demanded the federal government put down in writing a promise not to tax farmers for methane emissions.
NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen should all sign a statement that farmers would not be left worse off under the Methane Pledge.
“Before we go making pledges to other countries, our leaders should make a pledge to the people who grow our food and fibre,” Mr Martin said.
“We’ve been told that farmers will be excluded, but the same thing happened in New Zealand and now they’re experiencing the disastrous impact of these international agreements.
“Australia cannot afford to put global appearances ahead of our ability to feed and clothe ourselves, and our government should make an iron-clad assurance – in writing – that agriculture will not be impacted by Joe Biden’s Methane Pledge.”
According to the Federated Farmers of New Zealand, “lies, damned lies and statistics” have driven a plan to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions that would see agricultural communities killed off in the name of climate change. It claimed it was the equivalent of destroying the entire New Zealand wine industry and half the seafood industry.
Mr Martin said while there were promising trials and pieces of research being conducted to help reduce how much methane livestock produced, Australia was a long way from having commercially scalable options for ‘low methane’ livestock. He pointed out that Australian farmers got a 1.3 per cent return on assets, whereas larger food businesses such as Woolworths got a 15 per cent return, so there was little room to move given farmers had already reduced emissions by more than 30 per cent.
“As it stands, the only way to reduce livestock emissions is to reduce the size of the national herd,” Mr Martin said.
“Families are already feeling stress at the checkout, they will be wanting iron-clad assurances that farm production isn’t reduced.
“If the government wants to cut methane it needs to invest in research that will let us do that without impacting production.”