THE FOUNDER of a leading ag-tech software business has told Australian farmers they may get short-term gains from being excluded from any carbon emissions schemes but longer term it would work against them.
John Fargher, Agriwebb, said an exclusion from any emissions target scheme may be beneficial for growers at first, but it would soon become problematic.
"As a country and as an industry we need to be moving towards net zero, and we all need to be doing our piece, the short term wins from being exempt from any scheme will not be worth it," Mr Fargher said.
"With the trend globally we need to be involved in order for Australia to remain competitive and to be able to access new markets," he said.
"The facts are if we are not involved we will be shut out of many markets."
"It will tie in with what we are trying to create as a brand as a supplier of a trusted, high quality product and trying, where possible, to keep out of lower value commodity markets."
Mr Fargher said participation in carbon trading schemes was becoming mainstream in agriculture.
"All of the large food companies are buying into these carbon neutral schemes, it is no longer something that is just going to be done by the gourment butcher, it is going to be the bulk of the market."
Mr Fargher said growers in Australia should embrace the new framework.
"We shouldn't see this as another stick, or another tax, we should see it as an opportunity."
He said how farmers participated would vary from region to region.
"It is quite complex and what your best strategy will be will depend on where you are within the country with our very diverse climate meaning diverse ways of approaching it."
He said he understood farmer concerns about signing up to a scheme that did not work and being stuck in and said this was an area the industry had to improve on.
"We've been looking at carbon schemes and the legal stuff - speaking to the stakeholders there," he said.
"The concerns about signing up for 25 year schemes and having covenants on the title are fair, but groups are coming up with more flexible options."
"The space of carbon scheme offerings for farmers is wide open for some innovation, the industry needs to have more flexibility."
"Farmers want the opportunity to be able to reduce risk but also to provide upside should it arise."
Mr Fargher said the biggest challenge to a coherent carbon trading system in Australia was facilitating farmers to change practices to reduce emissions.
"We have the infrastructure to facilitate carbon trading, right now there is a big gap between the trading markets and how a farmer goes about changing practices to participate."
"Things like rotational grazing and regenerative practices, there are farmers interested who don't know how to take that step."
He said software platforms like Agriwebb's would play a big role in quantifying the change and allowing farmers to be able to see it and report on it, but he said the industry was crying out for some constants within software systems.
"We definitely need data consistency, it is critical there is some sort of unified approach that allows farmers the flexibility to change software platforms but still retain their information."
"We're starting to see it, MLA have pulled together a sustainability guide with a lot of carbon metrics, we need to have more of this so we're all on the same page."
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