THE fact carbon farming is still not recognised as an industry sector in its own right is holding back on-property adoption of practices desperately needed to address what has now become a job of climate repair.
So says one of the country's leading experts in the opportunities of a decarbonised economy and society, John Connor.
With more than 25 years working on public and business policy focusing on climate, sustainability and development issues, Mr Connor today heads up the Carbon Market Institute, a peak body for businesses transitioning to net-zero emissions.
He will be one of the headline acts at this year's Climate and Carbon in Agriculture 2020 conference, to be held in Adelaide at the end of the month.
"We are hearing many stories of problems between potential carbon farmers and property valuers about carbon farming not being viewed as a primary production - it is not for taxation purposes, for example," he said.
"Given we've now had millions of dollars go into regional areas from carbon farming, we need to bring the thinking into this century and recognise the very substantial potential industry this is."
Big investments from resource companies are being made in the bid to have negative emission carbons as part of their package and nature-based climate solutions are attracting significant focus from the corporate world, Mr Connor said.
"These are very important trends - the realisation it's a job of climate repair now and that farming has a big role to play," he said.
Nature-based climate solutions are practices such as herd management and sequestering emissions in the landscape.
"For many primary producers, it should be seen as a valid additional revenue stream, offering a way to spread risk and revenue in a farming operation," Mr Connor said.
One thing that has also held back the business is perception issues in the farming community - the view that it is just locking up land.
"It's far from that - in fact it is allowing farmers to stay on country," Mr Connor said.
"The idea that a productive farm has to be a cleared farm is not reality."
Agriculture leaders were not lagging in being on the climate repair job, he believes.
"The clear aspirations for net zero emissions set by the National Farmers Federation and Meat & Livestock Australia are highly relevant," he said.
"The leaders in the ag space are certainly recognising the course that is required in response to climate change."
Is it achievable?
"Definitely. Individual farmers already have," Mr Connor said.
He felt it would require a combination of many things to give industries like red meat a zero carbon footprint by 2030, including nailing the science, commercial viability and cultural change.
Climate and carbon conference
The Climate Research Strategy for Primary Industries has released an impressive line-up of speakers for the Adelaide conference.
The program provides the chance for primary producers, researchers, academics and decision makers within businesses and government to engage in discussion on the challenge of managing for a variable climate, which has been recently amply illustrated by bushfires and extreme weather in Australia.
To be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 31 March to 1 April, the event aims to tackle some of the most important issues facing agriculture and arm attendees with the latest thinking, information and adaptation strategies.
Expert speakers and researchers at the forefront of thinking around carbon and climate in agriculture will be on hand, along with forward-thinking producers, who will outline how they've managed to keep their farming and business practices at the cutting edge to adapt to climate risk.
Whilst mitigation and adaptation are key, it is not all about managing downside associated with a changing climate. For instance, Professor Mark Howden, Director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University and a Vice Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is clear in his view that farmers should be looking to capitalise on the opportunities that climate change brings.
Other keynote speakers include Charlotte Turner, Associate at Minter Ellison and Elizabeth O'Leary, Head of Agriculture, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets.
Producers are able to take advantage of a discounted rate to register.
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The story Move with the times: carbon farming is primary production first appeared on Farm Online.