Australian Government releases discussion paper on its Agriculture and Land Plan

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Image credit: Australian Government

The Australian Government has launched a discussion paper for its Agriculture and Land Plan, one of six sectoral decarbonisation plans under the Net Zero 2050 Plan, as part of broader public consultation.

Agriculture accounted for 16.8% of national greenhouse gas emissions in 2020-21, with this share expected to rise as other sectors like electricity adopt more affordable and accessible abatement options.

The Federal Government noted that the Australian agricultural industry has long called for collaborative policies and national strategies to ensure a prosperous, productive, and sustainable future. According to ABARES modelling, current seasonal conditions (2001 to 2020) affected the profitability of Australian broadacre farms by an average of 23%, or approximately $29,200 per farm.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt will oversee the plan’s development in partnership with Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen and Minister for Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek.

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According to the Federal Government, the discussion paper will initiate a continuous dialogue with the sector regarding lower emissions pathways.

Minister Watt said the discussion paper aims to identify opportunities for the sector to reduce emissions, enhance agricultural productivity, promote sustainability, and enhance resilience.

“The government is seeking views and feedback from industry, experts and the community on ways that agriculture and land can contribute to the whole-of-economy emissions reduction task,’ Minister Watt stated.

“Farmers and landholders are already seeing the impact of climate change on their businesses, and have been leaders in sustainability for a long time. Their expertise in this area will be valuable in putting together the Plan,” he added.

Minister Bowen stated that Australian farmers are on the front lines of climate change and that collaborating with the agriculture sector would help achieve Australia’s net zero goals and maintain the industry.

“The Albanese Government wants to work in partnership with industry to get this Agriculture and Land Plan right – supporting them to adopt low-emission technologies that boost productivity and reduce costs, and maximise opportunities to increase carbon storage in the landscape,” Minister Bowen said.

Minister Plibersek stated that landholders and land managers, particularly those in Indigenous Protected Areas, will play a critical role in maintaining and healing the environment and making it more resilient.

“Farmers are terrific stewards of our natural environment. When they act to reduce greenhouse gases, they can also have a fantastic impact on improving biodiversity – for example by better protecting remnant bush or improving planting around dams. When farmers earn money from carbon farming, they will also be able to earn money through our nature repair market,” Minister Plibersek said.

“We are determined to better protect nature and leave it better off for our kids and grandkids – and we know farmers play an important role in that,” she added.

Public submissions will be accepted through DAFF’s website and will close on 13 December 2023.