Natural resources

The markets, trade and value chain policy advisory group (PAG) is committed to improving dairy farm profitability and ensuring sustainable growth for Australian dairy production. The PAG also deals with issues relating to market insights, collective bargaining, health and nutrition, sustainable farm input costs, competitive domestic and international market access, and food safety.

Scope

  • Inform industry R,D&E policy and advocacy

  • Nutrient management

  • Climate change

  • Water

  • Tools for response to natural resources

Priorities

  • Establish the dairy industry as part of the solution for a healthy Australian population and a sustainable environment.

  • Ensure industry maintains the right access to key production resources.

  • Promote a national and regional policy environment that champions the dairy industry through lobbying and advocacy.

  • Ensure the dairy industry is acknowledged as an integral part of the regional communities in which it is located.

Policies

Climate Change
  • There is sufficient scientific evidence, international policy, and public interest in increased climate change to justify industry action.
  • Adaptation of farming systems to climate variability is a high priority.
  • Emissions mitigation will be a major directive for all industries including agriculture.
  • Quality research, development and extension (RD&E) will underpin delivery of practical information, tools and guidance dairy farming businesses need to manage the impacts of climate variability and adaptation options on farm.
  • Accord dairy processors Emissions-Intensive, Trade-Exposed (EITE) status under any carbon pricing scheme until all major dairy competitors are subject to similar schemes.
  • A business activity statement (BAS) claim rebate must be provided for carbon price costs on power bills for dairy farms, similar to the diesel rebate for cropping and grazing enterprises.
  • ADF must advocate to ensure adequate funding in emissions reduction programs, including related research, to assist the dairy industry in undertaking energy efficiency assessments, and to transition to renewable energy technology and energy efficient equipment.
  • The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) should include:
    • sector or activity funding bands, to enable energy-intensive agriculture sectors (farming and processing) to access the ERF. Banding is also more likely to facilitate aggregated bids covering a range of energy efficient options of varying carbon abatement costs;
    • funding dedicated to a national energy efficiency scheme along the lines of State ‘white certificate’ schemes such as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target, to reduce transaction costs for aggregated carbon abatement for industries such as dairy with many small to medium enterprises;
    • an emissions intensity methodology and baselines approach based on emissions per unit of production;
    • flexible baselines determined on the basis of emissions over an historical period of time, to account for fluctuations in production due to changing market and seasonal conditions;
    • standard contracts for carbon abatement under the ERF, noting that more information is required on the terms;
    • contracts for carbon abatement for longer than the proposed five years, to maximise the incentive to invest in energy efficiency and reduced enteric emissions; and
    • the establishment of an agricultural technical working group, to consider the methods and rules for reducing energy intensity and improving energy efficiency opportunities for agriculture (in both farms and related processing), research and development of additional CFI methodologies, and appropriate aggregation and other models to enable agriculture to participate fully in the ERF.
  • An Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the preferred climate change mitigation intervention due to its lower transition cost.
  • ADF must advocate to ensure grants are available to assist farmers in transitioning to renewable energy technology on farms under the Energy Efficiency Package.
  • ADF supports providing positive signals for farm practice change rather than using blunter instruments based on penalties.
  • Australia’s emissions reduction commitments must not undermine our trade exposed industry and needs to be aligned with our major competitors.
  • Policy cannot reduce international competitiveness and contribution needs to be consistent with other sectors.
Drought
  • Drought preparedness is endorsed as the primary means of dairy farmers managing drought.
  • Dairy farmers and governments have a mutual obligation in drought policy and management. Farmers need to demonstrate a commitment to sustainable farming through appropriate business and farm management and Governments need to provide appropriate policy platforms and certainty through funding commitments.
  • In-event support is warranted in some circumstances where drought conditions and impact from drought has gone beyond reasonable business and farm management preparedness options.
  • Government support for drought preparedness, management and recovery needs to be provided through a range of measures.
  • The Federal Government must work with the state governments collectively to achieve consistent approaches and accessibility to drought concessional loans.
  • ADF supports the principle of self-reliance and preparedness.
  • Drought policy must be integrated with all other policies affecting farm families and businesses.
  • Governments must provide a basic safety net for those in severe distress.
  • Farmers must be provided with access to individual advice and decision-making support to choose the best course and investments for their particular circumstances.
  • There may be circumstances that exceed any reasonable level of preparedness and further assistance may be needed.
Energy
  • Unconventional gas mining activity must not compromise the natural resources upon which the industry relies and without loss to industry reputation or market access.
  • It is a farmer’s decision whether to have a mine established on their land, rather than using legal processes to force access where landowners are not willing.
  • ADF supports the application of a 20% renewable energy target (RET).
  • ADF must ensure that energy policy exerts downward price pressure on network and other tariffs charged to agricultural commodities and processers.
  • ADF supports imposing appropriate rules to prevent Distribution Network Service Providers and other electricity market participants from taking advantage of the system to inflate revenues by exaggerating the real cost of capital to cover infrastructure renewal.
  • ADF supports the establishment of incentive schemes to encourage adoption of energy efficient measures and renewable energy technologies to offset the effects of rising electricity prices and minimise carbon emissions.
  • ADF supports investment in infrastructure upgrades to ensure regional areas enjoy the same reliability and capacity of electricity supply as urban areas.
  • Energy bills must have improved transparency and simplicity.
Land Use Planning
  • ADF supports the standardisation of planning definitions and associated land use regulation across jurisdictions to ensure it does not unnecessarily hinder the development of new dairy operations nor the upgrading and responsive decision‐making of existing operations.
Nutrient Management and Biodiversity
  • Funding must be provided for integrated biodiversity management on farms that boosts productivity, such as shelter belts for stock and fencing off waterways.
  • Funding must be provided for on-farm nutrient testing and management plans to reduce farmers’ fertiliser costs, boost soil productivity, and keep waterways and lakes clean.
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