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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2008
page 55 C aTTL e COUNCIL OF a USTR a LI a Y ea RBOOK 2008 It is in this context that the NFF unashamedly pushed its key nation-building plans to both sides of politics throughout the 2007 federal election campaign. The new government now faces the absolute necessity to meet the challenges the NFF and our members have identified and capitalise on future possibilities. australia, unlike any other nation, is uniquely positioned to reap the rewards of asia’s population boom and increased purchasing power, with australian farmers in the vanguard. Those expanding asian societies will need food and fibre like never before. and, due to their growing affluence, they will demand produce of the highest quality – clean, natural and to the safest standards. Here, australia is second to none. That’s why the NFF’s 2007 Federal election policy platform, against which we critiqued Labor and Coalition policies, was deliberately geared to tying the new australian government to a strategic plan for this country’s future prosperity. The NFF steadfastly drilled both political camps for the detail necessary to make sense of what the next government will actually do. Despite a glacially slow start on rural issues, both major parties made key and binding announcements that are vital to farmers, their families and rural communities. On key issues, such as our national skills base, global trade, water security, transport infrastructure and quarantine, both parties made positive commitments, taking onboard the NFF’s platform. However, on others, namely climate change, we saw key acknowledgement afforded to agriculture from Labor, but little focus from the Coalition. australian farmers have already made a huge, and often unrecognised, contribution to reducing australia’s net greenhouse emissions – primary industry emissions have plummeted 40% over the past 15 years. In fact, that australia is on track to meet its Kyoto commitments is overwhelmingly due to our farmers changing their land use practices. But the existing international greenhouse accounting rules ignore the carbon cycle of agricultural systems – that is, taking account of not only emissions, but also sequestration. That’s a key message we took to the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, late in 2007. Unlike any other emitting sectors, farming sees a natural ‘life cycle’ at work. For instance, while it is true agriculture is responsible for around 17% of australia’s total carbon emissions, no account is taken of the carbon being sequestered in soil, crops and trees in this assessment. ‘Life Cycle assessments’ must be undertaken to ensure we have rules that reflect a better-informed and more accurate understanding of the complete carbon profile across the vast array of australian farming systems. a farm, being a biological system, is not like a power station and must not be treated like one. Indeed, people are less concerned about agriculture’s emissions – given food and fibre is so vital – than other sector’s looking to use international rules to simply trade-off their emissions, rather than making any genuine attempt at reducing them. The last thing the world needs at this time of global food shortage is for food production to be traded-off as a perverse outcome of carbon policies – after all, people can’t eat carbon credits. National Farmers’ Federation a new climate in Canberra By 2020, half of the world’s population will be living on australia’s northern doorstep. an estimated four billion people – an increase of 500 million – across asia, with economic growth of 7% per annum, presents unparalleled opportunities for australia’s economy, especially our farm sector. David Crombie, President, National Farmers’ Federation Australia, unlike any other nation, is uniquely positioned to reap the rewards of Asia’s population boom and increased purchasing power, with Australian farmers in the vanguard.