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19/09/2008

Environmentally friendly farmers at a loss in no-agriculture emissions trading

The Biological Farmers of Australia’s response to the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) Green Paper, released publicly yesterday, says leaving agriculture out of an emissions scheme could cost farmers using environmentally friendly methods of production.

The BFA (Australia’s largest organic business and farmer representative group) says better carbon soil sequestration by landowners who utilise biological systems, minus emissions-intensive farm chemicals, should be accounted for.

The BFA submission advises that agriculture be brought forward into an emissions trading scheme before 2015 for organic farmers who don’t ‘burn out’ carbon in soil.

“While we applaud policy moves towards reduced carbon pollution, discounting agriculture from a proposed ETS omits what could arguably be the biggest single optimal positive impact on carbon abatement and sequestering: Soils,” said Dr. Andrew Monk, BFA Director.

“Organic and biological farmers should be given the opportunity to ‘opt-in’ to an emissions scheme from 2010. Organically managed soils are active models of an agricultural system which can deliver carbon sequestration and emission reduction benefits right now.”

Soils under organic management have the potential to store carbon in organic matter or stable humus factions for up to 1000 years.

No synthetic chemical inputs in organic farming means CO2 emissions from organic farmers can be 40 – 60% lower per hectare than non-organic (1) (US research).

“Organic farmers have to date internalised the costs of a production system that provides environmental benefits. It’s now time for stronger policy and R&D recognition of the merits of organic production in Australia,” said Dr. Monk.

Dr. Monk said the current perception of agricultural ‘productivity’ in terms of volume output of a single commodity was fundamentally flawed, and would lead to longer term productivity decline.

“The move to recognise organic and biological farming systems’ carbon sequestration potential offers the opportunity to change this, in a market driven, industry invested way.

“This would deliver increasingly productive agriculture which recognises the value of long-term sustainability in food and fibre production,” he said.

To see the BFA Green Paper submission visit BFA position statements www.bfa.com.au/index.asp?Sec_ID=258

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