Protect farmland in race to Net Zero

NSW Farmers has called for the clear protection of agricultural land as the state moves to slash emissions by 2030.

While moves to increase private sector investment, grow the economy and lower power prices were welcomed, NSW Farmers Vice President Xavier Martin said the protection of prime agricultural land had to be a fundamental part of the plan.

“As they say, they’re not making any more dirt, and we need to ensure that prime agricultural land is protected because once you dig it up or pave over it, it’s gone forever,” Mr Martin said.

“We are not against development; we are simply asking for the right development in the right place. The Liverpool Plains is a clear example of where the interests of agriculture and mining come into conflict – it is critical the NSW Government work to protect against the loss and fragmentation of valuable farmland.”

Attracting investment into the state – especially into the agriculture sector – would be welcome news for farmers looking to innovate and grow their businesses this decade, Mr Martin said. However, he warned that there were still concerns about the placement of large-scale renewable energy and transmission installations.

“We remain concerned about regional renewable energy zones – there is clearly scope for this sort of infrastructure, but we must ensure it does not displace food and fibre from quality land,” Mr Martin said.

“A short-term cash grab may be enticing to some producers, but that will have the larger effect of reducing our farmgate output, and a loss of land that can never be recovered.”

Mr Martin said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the plan, which promised to double the economy and halve emissions by 2030, but food security had to be a key consideration.

“It is ambitious, and we’ll need continued research and development investment to make some of these emissions-reduction technologies a reality,” Mr Martin said.

“It’s promising to see the government take a ‘technology not taxes’ approach, as a big part of this will be access to new markets and technologies.

“NSW Farmers welcomes the Minister’s commitment to action that is based on science and economics – not ideology.”

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