Federal Labor’s election commitment to scrap artificial Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) water barriers will make farm forestry more attractive, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Ross Hampton and Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers Federation (NFF), Tony Mahar said today.

Yesterday, Federal Labor committed to removing the regulatory barriers that exclude plantation and farm forestry from the carbon market, which have severely restricted new forestry plantings from going ahead.

“Labor’s commitment is potentially a game changer that needs to be matched by the Coalition, to guarantee that the restrictions are removed, whichever side of politics is elected next month,” Mr Hampton said.

“It will allow farmers to participate in both the carbon and production market. The farm forestry methodology is designed to allow farmers to plant or regenerate trees that can participate in the carbon market and also be harvested for timber or other benefits. This is currently only possible below the 400mm threshold or at very small scale. The opportunities for positive productive agricultural outcomes from integration of trees into the landscape are understood. To now be able to achieve complementary benefits, carbon market return and post-harvest outcomes is a quality outcome,” Mr Hampton concluded.

“Labor’s commitment is a good step in the right direction. It’s our members view that this policy will open up further opportunities for farmers to diversify farm income. Farming and forestry collaborating does not mean locking up agricultural land and can bring a multitude of complementary benefits, including provision of stock shelter and soil improvements,” Mr Mahar said.

“Australian agriculture is seeking a bipartisan commitment to grow the industry to $100B by 2030 and we look forward to sensible policies such as this from an incoming government that allow us to do exactly that – grow and continue to produce food and fibre for the world. A partnership between farmers and foresters makes good sense,” Mr Mahar concluded.

Plantations and farm forestry are currently constrained from competing in the carbon market by unnecessary restrictions in the Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies, which restrict new planting in areas with more than 600mm of annual rainfall for plantations, and 400mm for farm forestry. The plantations methodology contains safeguards around where trees can be planted – projects are restricted to National Plantation Inventory regions and are subject to approval by the Federal Minister for Agriculture.