Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Ring-fencing farmers from a net-zero carbon target is nothing but political point scoring based on the needs of those who think in timelines that are based on their political needs, not the future of agriculture.
NET-ZERO is a target of the NSW Government and now an ambition of the Commonwealth. Right now is when the work is done to get regulatory frame works right. Right now is when we need agriculture front-and-centre.
We are fairly fresh into 2021, which means there is another 29 years before we hit 2050. If carved out now, this is 29 years of farmers being excluded from the policy table.
Once cut out, farmers are cut off.
Farmers will spend 29 years of being sidelined as plans for the future and investment strategies are developed and formulated by Government. This is 29 years cut off from real opportunities, investment and yes, real dollars in their pockets.
On some farms, an entirely new generation of farmers will be working their land, but many of their plans for the future are laid out decades in advance and in the making. Many learn their trade as little more than toddlers following their parents around the farm. On some farms, many now are looking ahead, carefully weighing the weather and future diversification options.
29 years isolated from one of the key areas to be considered by multiple generations of politicians is 29 years frozen in place, as investors and the economy moves around them.
It puts them behind by almost an entire generation. A father looking to pass the farm to his daughter has no hope of guessing what might happen after those 29 years in the dark.
In political terms, it’s like spending a century on the bench.
This could have a devastating financial impacts on farmers.
How can farmers shape the future of this policy and cash in on opportunities when they are totally excluded from it? This is exactly how bad policy has morphed into even worse regulations and been slapped down on farmers heads before – the old native vegetation laws spring immediately to mind. It is particularly short-sighted when you think about how carbon rich farmers are and what this simple fact could mean for their businesses.
Most farmers right now, especially when conditions are good, are probably carbon neutral or even carbon negative – meaning they completely offset any emissions via their land and normal farming operations. What I want is for farmers to be paid for the valuable environmental benefits they bring to the table for New South Wales, for biodiversity, carbon, renewables, sustainable agriculture and so many other untapped potential income streams.
By cutting them out, you’re cutting them off.
And rather than their rich carbon resources being factored into emerging markets that they can capitalise on, they’ll simply be sidelined or even worse, penalised, because their representatives failed to get them a real seat at this table.
As Minister for Agriculture for the premier agricultural producing state, I want the farmers I represent to be at the pointy end of this area and maximise every opportunity to potentially secure additional income streams.
This is why I back NSW Farmers Association, National Farmers Federation and so many other farmers in supporting agriculture being included in the debates as we navigate a pathway forward to 2050. Let’s get the modelling and the policy right by keeping farmers solidly in play, rather than spending 29 years in no-man’s land, when the people who called the loudest for farming to be excluded from the future have long since retired.
Farmers are already carbon bankers. It’s time they started to draw up the terms for their own futures.