THE Federal Government says it will soon finalise new protections on carbon farming, forcing companies to make a special application to undertake large projects.
Earlier this year, the protections were agreed to by the Federal Government, as a condition of the National Party committing to a “net zero emissions by 2050” target.
Lobby group New South Wales Farmers have welcomed the legislation, while a carbon farming organisation says it would like to see the benefits of soil carbon projects recognised.
The new regulation will mean companies planning to have a carbon abatement project taking up greater than 33 percent of a property will have to apply to the Minister for Agriculture. With the legislation expected to be finalised on January 14.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud told a press conference in the NSW town of Orange last week, it will give the government the power to refuse projects.
“The Minister for Agriculture will have the veto powers in which to decline that application if they believe that it is not in the productive interest of agriculture,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Carbon farming is an important tool, one we want to continue to provide to our farmers in a balanced manner. It has to be in balance that we protect the productive landscape and we protect those communities.”
Mr Littleproud said areas of Nothern NSW and south-west Qld where large carbon projects have been running for a number of years have not been managed properly.
“What we’ve seen is foreign companies and big investment houses in capital cities come out, buy up large areas of agricultural land, productive land, and simply walk away and throw away the key,” he said.
“That’s had perverse outcomes, not just to the local economy, but it’s taken families out and taken away productive landscape. The land hasn’t been managed and we’ve seen pests and weeds emanate from this.”
Carbon farming methods maturing
While there are minimal details on the way the new legislation will work, Impact Ag partners natural capital manager Toby Grogan said he would like it to see the benefits of soil carbon projects recognised.
“The soil carbon projects we have been running under the Climate Solution Fund, using the Australian soil carbon method, have not impacted our productivity in any way,” Mr Grogan said.
“As we have increased our soil carbon levels, we have increased our carrying capacity on the farms that we operate.”
Mr Grogan said while carbon farming methods were still improving, they had become a lot more user friendly over the years.
“The service providers are becoming more sophisticated in how they manage projects and the methods are evolving and becoming more readily applied,” he said.
“The government has released a new method, known as the 2021 method, that has a number of improvements to reduce the complexity and the cost of soil carbon methods.
“With this new announcement by the Federal Government, we are keen to see more detail.”
NSW Farmers welcome the move
With the detail the be finalised early next year, NSW Farmers have welcomed the move by the Federal Government. President James Jackson said the legislation had a lot of merit.
“One of the big concerns is that ‘Carbon Farms’ don’t require a workforce and don’t spend money in town,” Mr Jackson said.
“We don’t have any problem with a farmer wanting to convert some land into native forest revegetation if they want, but there needs to be balance and this is a step towards ensuring that balance.
“We welcome this announcement and look forward to seeing the outcome in the new year.”
Mr Jackson said farmers were concerned about the unintended consequences of well-meaning initiatives like the Emissions Reduction Fund and wanted to ensure there were safeguards for communities and agriculture.
“Farmers are good land managers and take care of their neighbours, but there is a concern that if these forests aren’t actively managed, they become a haven for pest animals and plants, and become a fire hazard as we saw two summers ago,” he said.
“We’re not saying these projects should never happen – far from it, if a farmer wants to do it, does it properly and can benefit from it, that’s a good thing.”
The great Savannah plains grasslands are the biggest carbon-sink on this Earth … and pressure-on, pressure-off grazing in a nomadic-mimicking style where ground-cover is well-maintained, goes a long way to enabling Nature’s totally free process of Photosynthesis to work towards peak-efficiency in taking carbon-dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and injecting oxygen into that space across time. Bio-mass is important and slowing-down the rainfall that flows across the landscape, and getting it deep into the soil-profile such that it percolates slowly through, will enable deep-rooted plant systems and add to the increased Carbon-in-Soil (CIS) measures.
Higher CIS will mean being slower into a drought, and faster out the other side and at the same time, allow stocking-rate densities and farming-yields to hold and rise above Median measures across time … and, in the same breath, adds to the capital-value of that parcel of land, due to higher generated income in a more consistent level.
The Farmer should own and control the annual sale of excess Carbon Credits above the requirements of Nature (ie if you’ve raised the CIS as measured, above 5% and the grass only requires 2%, then the Farmer has around 3% to trade in an annual carbon-trading programme).
This extra annual cash-flow from Carbon-trading, also adds to the value of the underlying land; as improved.
It’s a Win/Win for all!
Animals which efficiently convert grasses (which humans do not eat) to edible protein for human consumption has been recognised for millenniums.
That is why cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, ducks, turkeys, horses, buffalo etc are the major source of supplying body building protein to the world
Good news for producers of these products as ‘carbon farming’ will reduce supply and increase prices for their products!
That is happening right now in Europe and can partially explain why the price of meat products is reaching a level where it should be, At last.!
And the trend from land being more valuable in growing trees ( think Govt scheme in Managed investment Funds, grapes, blue gums etc) to carbon abatement schemes will eventually turn around to being land which produces animal protein which historically is the most efficient use of native grasslands.
Trends! And influencers! Do not always result in sustainable outcomes!
Have you ever fed a kangaroo and measured how much grass it eats just to stay alive?
Good move David Littleproud, in making “foreign companies and big investment houses in capital cities” play the game properly.