“Carbon Tax” opening up opportunities in Australian agriculture

In May, the Federal Government announced the successful applicants of  “Filling the Research Gap” and “Action on the Ground“,  round one funding, direct beneficiaries of the Clean Energy Futures policy.

I think its great to see the variety of projects and it’s the first real step to getting farmers and the rest of Australia away from their reliance of fossil based products and toward more sustainable agricultural systems.

Overall 117 projects shared 72 million dollars with research including reducing emissions from livestock and cropping, through to on–farm trials of practices and technologies to help land managers become more resilient to a changing climate. Let’s face it, this is the big investment in agriculture and will ensure its sustainability into the future.

The bad press and the resentment of the “carbon tax” (actually, it’s not a tax, it’s a floor price for a market based mechanism) comes from a lack of understanding of the reasons behind why we really do need a price on carbon.

Sure, climate change is seen as the main driver and this is true, we can’t continue to pollute the environment without incurring some cost to the very way we live our lives. However, the main reason we need a price on carbon is to reduce our dependence on fossil based energy and the products that flow from it, such as fertiliser chemicals, fuels and oils.

Pricing carbon begins the transition away from this source, as the price on carbon makes fossil based energy and products less attractive, investment will flow to more sustainable sources. For farmers, this means a range of alternative farming practices will become more attractive and others will become involved in other industries, such as bioenergy, where farmer groups can team together, form grower owned cooperatives and use their crop residues to fire local bioenergy plants producing bioenergy, biofuels and biochar.

Research projects like, Filling the Gap and Action on the Ground take it another step further by investing in projects that will benefit the environment and potentially put a dollar into the back pocket of Australian farmers.

For more information on the funding outcomes checkout DAFF’s Carbon Farming Futures website and see for yourself, the amount and variety of work being done in this area.