Agribusiness

Piggeries first livestock target for Govt carbon abatement

Jon Condon, 16/11/2011

The Federal Government has released the first methodology to be approved under its Carbon Farming Initiative, provide pig farmers with the opportunity to earn carbon credits for reducing methane emissions from manure.

Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig said 680 commercial piggeries in Australia stood to benefit from the CFI.

Under the ‘Methodology for the Destruction of Methane Generated from Manure in Piggeries’, farmers could capture harmful methane emissions produced by manure and destroy the gas by flaring to prevent it entering the atmosphere, or use the methane to generate heat and electricity, Mr Ludwig said.

Farmers could trade the offsets they generated for carbon credits, which could be sold to generate income, he said.

“The roll-out of methodologies such as this will see farmers across the country participating in the world’s first federally-backed carbon offset market for the land sector.”

He claimed this would put Australian farmers at the forefront of emission reduction practices and provide valuable opportunities for farmers to trade carbon offsets internationally.

The methodology was developed in a collaboration involving the Government, the pork industry and scientists, and was assessed by the independent Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee.

$48m available in competitive R&D grants

Also last week, Mr Ludwig announced the first competitive grants round under the Government’s $201 million ‘Filling the Research Gap’ program.

The program is a key part of the Carbon Farming Futures Fund, under the $1.7 billion Land Sector Package.

He said up to $48m in competitive grants would be available in the first round of the program.

“This is the first opportunity for the Australian research sector to apply for funds under the Government’s Securing a Clean Energy Future plan. The land sector holds the promise of countless untapped abatement opportunities,” he said.

“This research program will identify and develop new low–cost abatement options for farmers and other land managers to reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon, enhancing sustainable agricultural practices.”

“We have already seen outstanding contributions to climate change research, such as the work at UQ to understand how fats could reduce methane emissions from livestock, through the Climate Change Research Program.”

“The Filling the Research Gap program will help attract further research from scientists and independent experts and significantly expand the opportunities for land holders.”

Filling the Research Gap is an ongoing program that will invest in priority research over the next six years, Mr Ludwig said.

“Ongoing research is needed to unlock new opportunities for farmers and land managers to generate additional income from the carbon they store in the landscape by participating in the Carbon Farming Initiative and creating carbon credits.”

He claimed that the Australian pork industry had suggested that by using the methodology, producers could increase the return on each finished carcase by $3.45 and preliminary trials suggest the payback period for the infrastructure ranged from 18 months to five years.

Australian Pork Ltd chief executive Andrew Spencer said to be the first industry to have a methodology for the reduction in GHG production given the green light by the Government displayed his industry’s willingness and capability to change its practices for the future good.

“Consumers can see that Australian pork farmers are literally walking the talk in taking the reduction of carbon pollution seriously.”

“Not only does this show we are environmentally responsible, it also makes our pork different from our competitors overseas. This CFI methodology milestone demonstrates we are listening to what our consumers are saying.”

Pig farmers can start planning projects based on the methodology now and apply to participate in the Carbon Farming Initiative when it begins operating in December this year.

Depending on the size of the piggery, the cost of installing basic methane capture infrastructure is likely to range from around $75,000 to $200,000. No abatement option program has yet been offered by the Government for intensive or extensive cattle production, or the beef processing sector.  

The pork industry scheme is the first of a range of methodologies that will be available for the Australian agriculture industries, the Government said.

Other methodologies currently under consideration by the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee include methodologies to reduce emissions from savanna burning, landfill gas, and waste diversion as well as a methodology to sequester carbon through environmental plantings.

To further help farmers to reduce emissions and be rewarded under the CFI, the government has established the Carbon Farming Futures initiative, which it says is designed to lead to the development of more approved offsets methodologies so farmers can receive credits for a broader range of activities.

It has been calculated that larger Australian beef processors qualifying for the direct carbon emissions tax for emissions above 25,000t will accrue additional production costs worth $6-$8 per beast slaughtered. That cost that will inevitably be passed back to cattle producers in the form of lower prices for slaughter stock.

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