18 May 2021. By AgForce Young Producers' Council Chair James Henderson.

As Chair of AgForce’s Young Producers' Council I, along with the rest of the Council members, almost have a mandate to look at agriculture as it is now and see if there are better ways we could be doing things.

So hearing Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud speaking on The Country Hour last week about feral animal control, biodiversity, remnant vegetation, and soil carbon, got my attention. (Transcript)

Not because what he was saying was innovative, but because AgForce’s own AgCarE model (Agriculture Carbon and the Environment) already includes each of the areas he was discussing – only with our model, industry would retain control of our ecosystem services, not be dictated to by big business or government, who could potentially force upon us yet more regulation, unworkable environmental schemes, and stewardship agreements.

AgCarE is an accounting model developed by AgForce to identify and acknowledge property performance in building natural capital.

It uses existing science and metrics to create a flexible, modular, scalable framework with multiple uses when it comes to recording data related to soil carbon and other measurable environmental factors.

For example, by incorporating feral animal control into the overall picture of active landscape management, it can help drive other ecosystem service outcomes including biodiversity, water quality, and ground cover.

When it comes to remnant vegetation, there are those who say it isn’t possible for a carbon credit to be applied, but our work shows this claim is incorrect.

AgForce has already developed a policy in partnership with Private Forestry Services Queensland that has the potential to bring in more than $2 billion to the State’s economy over the next 25 years.

It was heartening to hear Minister Littleproud speaking about soil carbon, but the current methodology used for generating Australian Carbon Credit Unit’s is clunky and outdated.

As someone who has two fully fledged vegetation-based carbon projects on their property, I feel more qualified than a lot of other armchair critics with a poor understanding of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit world, and I can tell you there are multiple ways to account for biodiversity in landscapes.

To limit this to only one metric, as is currently being suggested, will result in a range of small projects, not the type of widescale active landscape management we are looking for.

AgForce’s AgCarE model connects water quality, biodiversity, soil carbon, and overall profitability into a low cost, repeatable and scalable model that can be used for everything from drought strategies and certified carbon neutral products, to a multiplier for Australian Carbon Credit Unit based projects.

These are important conversations we need to have. We all want to protect our land, our environment, and our wildlife and it is clear that the natural capital we manage on a daily basis, currently for free, is increasing becoming a commodity that corporations and consumers are willing to pay for.

In AgForce’s AgCarE model we already have a system to deliver the entire range of integrated ecosystem services that maximises the science already available to us.

What we need now is for governments to back industry to create frameworks that tell the whole story, not just fragments.

That’s how we create a truly unified system that allows landholders to not only get paid for environmental goods and services, but that reduces regulation, while increasing the resilience of rural and regional communities.