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24 February 2021
BY DYLAN DE JONG
A Wimmera farmer believes the agricultural sector will continue to play a major role in carbon emissions reduction.
Vectis farmer Tim Rethus made his comment in response to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack suggesting the industry should be made exempt from Australia’s emissions targets.
Mr McCormack told media earlier this month the agricultural industry should not be ‘hurt’ in meeting international targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
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Mr Rethus said the agriculture sector was already on track to helping Australia achieving net zero, disagreeing with the deputy prime minister’s position.
“We shouldn’t be exempt at all,” he said.
“Mr McCormack has not read the public mood at all and he’s not representing the country. He seems to have a very narrow focus – I was disappointed he said that.”
In 2019, figures showed agriculture produced about 13 percent of Australia’s national emissions.
Mr Rethus said farmers had the ability to store carbon in their soil through sequestration – one method farmers could use to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
However, he said farmers were still struggling to implement carbon sequestration into their farming systems.
“We’re told we can sequester carbon and in theory you can, but it’s not that simple – it requires a lot of money to do it because you have got to fertilise the dirt to make that happen,” he said.
“The perception and hype around what we can do and what is physically achievable are two different things and we’re also dealing with the variability of the climate.”
Mr Rethus said agriculture would only be able to help meet targets if it was it was economically viable for farmers.
“It’s in our best interest to be as sustainable as possible and minimise our costs – and if it provides income that’s even better,” he said
“Any new initiatives need to keep us neutral or better than neutral in terms of profit.”
Mr Rethus said government-funded research would be critical to help farmers improve farming techniques that would result in lowered emissions.
“This is where all the research organisations really come into their element to try to develop better farming systems,” he said.
“It opens us up to getting more research dollars because we can’t store more carbon in our soil if we don’t know how to do it.” Mr Rethus also highlighted a nationwide surge in young people enrolling into agriculture courses in tertiary institutions.
He said he believed state and federal governments must springboard off greater interest in the industry to help drive a new era of research into sustainable agriculture.
“What is really incredible is how many students are going to ag colleges now. You’ve got so many smart young people taking up a career in ag,” he said.
“This is an opportunity for those students to make their mark on the industry and a great opportunity for the government to really push that and help groom the next wave of brilliant scientists that will solve our problems.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a priority for Australia to reach net-zero emission by 2050, but has yet to formally commit to any agreement.
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The entire February 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire February 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!