Rule change to protect agriculture and regional communities

The Australian Government is ensuring Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) native forest regeneration projects do not adversely impact agricultural production and regional communities.

From Friday, 8 April 2022, the Agriculture Minister will have a power of veto to prevent native forest regeneration projects from going ahead if they will have an adverse impact on agricultural production or regional communities.

The new rule will apply to native forest regeneration projects covering more than 15 hectares and more than one third of a farm.

Native forest regeneration projects will also need to report on their compliance with state, territory and local government requirements for managing pests and weeds.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the new rule was an important safeguard for rural and regional communities.

“As the ERF continues to grow, it’s important that we get the balance right between managing land, storing carbon and ensuring the ERF has a positive impact on agricultural production,” Minister Taylor said.

“Carbon service providers and project proponents have an important role to play in safeguarding the ERF’s licence to operate.

“The higher the standard industry sets, the more confidence the Government and regional communities can have in this scheme.

“The Morrison Government will ensure farmers retain control over their properties and have freedom to take part in ERF activities.

“The Government is investing more than $2.2 billion in carbon farming projects in regional Australia that are providing new opportunities for land managers to generate revenue by earning credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said it was important to make sure carbon farming remained a net positive for agriculture.

“We want carbon farming projects to benefit Australian agriculture and regional communities – to reward farmers for good environmental stewardship, and provide drought resilient income that is spent in town,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen instead in some cases are projects that negatively impact the neighbours and the town.

“We don’t want to see entire farms locked up, becoming havens for weeds and feral animals as families leave the land.

“I support well planned projects that involve the farmer and manage the land, I hope that there will be many projects that present no risk to community.

“But I will not hesitate to act to protect community and agricultural interests over corporates and passive investors.

“And importantly, the amendments mean projects must report on their compliance with state, territory, and local government rules for managing pests and weeds.

“These amendments are a safety valve for these projects, making sure that the benefits of carbon farming stay in the hands of rural communities.”

These changes will apply to proposed new projects and expansions of existing projects.

Source: Australian Government