AgForce's carbon stance a cop-out, Green Shirts say

Green Shirts respond to AgForce's carbon stance

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The decision by rural lobby group AgForce to abstain from voting on an aspirational economy-wide target of net carbon zero emissions by 2050, as part of an NFF policy, has not been received favourably by the Green Shirts grassroots agricultural group.

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Green Shirts national coordinator Martin Bella (right) said AgForce should have lobbied for a better proposal.

Green Shirts national coordinator Martin Bella (right) said AgForce should have lobbied for a better proposal.

The decision by rural lobby group AgForce to abstain from voting on an aspirational economy-wide target of net carbon zero emissions by 2050, as part of an NFF policy, has not been received favourably by the Green Shirts grassroots agricultural group.

AgForce abstained from voting on the target because it wants practical steps to fighting climate change to be taken sooner.

It said a national baseline of the ag industry's carbon footprint must be established, so practical "on-the-ground" action can quickly follow.

Green Shirts national coordinator, cattle and cane producer and Mackay Regional councillor, Martin Bella described that as a cop-out.

"In my experience, if something's not right, vote against it and tell them to come back with a better proposal," he said.

"To meet the Kyoto target, ag carried the can.

"We reduced tree clearing, emissions and so on while others continued with their outputs.

"Agriculture is an essential industry - why are others getting a free pass, that aren't essential."

Mr Bella said that until quality science was done, and checked, claims about carbon should be weighed up a little.

He also said that when someone said they were speaking for agriculture, it had to be taken into consideration what percentage of primary producers they were representing.

"The reasons AgForce gave for abstaining - from our point of view, that was enough to vote no," Mr Bella said.

"Graziers are angry - if AgForce was doing what it's supposed to do, the Green Shirts wouldn't exist.

"I've no great desire to harvest cane with my phone stuck to my ear."

FIRST STEP: AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said an industry-wide baseline has to be prioritised, so farmers can begin making practical steps towards reducing their emissions.

FIRST STEP: AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said an industry-wide baseline has to be prioritised, so farmers can begin making practical steps towards reducing their emissions.

AgForce chief executive Michael Guerin said primary producers were desperate to tackle climate change, but without a baseline they had no idea where to start or what areas to prioritise.

"It's come to the point where we must stand up and insist this work is done, so we can contribute as strongly as we can," Mr Guerin said.

"There are so many that want to contribute, and they're so frustrated that we kick the can down the road without an obvious first piece."

By abstaining from the vote, Mr Guerin said AgForce sent a signal that it would "not be patted on the head about prioritising this work".

Read more: NFF - why Australian ag must be carbon neutral by 2050

The story AgForce's carbon stance a cop-out, Green Shirts say first appeared on North Queensland Register.

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