The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the release of the expert panel examining additional sources of low-cost emissions abatement (the King Review) and the accompanying supportive government responses.
NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said the King Review, developed by former Business Council of Australia President Grant King, presented bite-sized recommendations that could be progressed for the benefit of small and medium scale farmers.
“The recommendations offer a welcomed shift in thinking from a current system of precise rules, process and time frames into a more flexible, dynamic and user-focussed scheme.
“On our initial reading, the recommendations made by the King panel recognise the requirement for abatement measures to fit into existing farming systems.
Mr Mahar said the NFF was particularly supportive of the following recommendations for:
Australian Carbon Credit Units to be awarded in a compressed timeframe to allow up front capital cost to be better recognised;
Third parties to propose methodologies;
The amendment of the water rule in relation to farm forestry and plantations;
The creation of tailored small-scale Emissions Reductions Fund methods for particular types of agriculture projects, including shelterbelts; and
The facilitation of ‘method stacking’, where multiple ERF projects are taken on the same property using different methods.
Consultation carried out by the NFF, found farmers supported ‘method stacking’.
“Method stacking could facilitate a ‘carbon plus’ model which allow the complementary benefits of sustainable farming systems and biodiversity to be measured and priced as a premium product on a voluntary basis,” Mr Mahar said.
The NFF’s Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme Trial is expected to propose a toolkit to facilitate this process.
“The NFF also acknowledges the recommendation for a scheme to assist with the costs including of soil carbon measurement for abatement – which has been an ongoing concern of the sector.
“The proposal to expand the remit of ARENA and CEFC to be more technology neutral will embrace the Technology Investment Roadmap and, importantly, the currently-under-development Bioenergy Roadmap which NFF is engaged in at a reference committee level.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF would continue to work with government to ensure the proposed watershed reforms were effectively implemented.
“The ERF is a key framework for current and developing programs of emissions reductions and additional complementary measures, it needs to be flexible and meet the market on terms that can see real outcomes, especially in the agricultural sector.
“Any improvements that make opportunities more efficient, accessible and user friendly will be welcomed.”
The NFF’s 2030 Roadmap prioritises greater biodiversity markets; cementing a competitive advantage through a carbon neutral approach and reducing the farm sector’s reliance on fossil fuels in favour of biofuels and renewable sources of electricity that are affordable and reliable.
The delivery of these priorities will be enhanced by the successful implementation of a range of these recommendations.
Mr Mahar also noted there was still much to be done to turn the King review recommendations into on-the-ground outcomes that provide real benefit to farmers.
“Such outcomes will drive the diversified resilience of the farm sector and provide farmers with an enhanced toolkit of voluntary opportunities to embrace alternate and multiple income streams,” Mr Mahar said.