5 October 2021. By AgForce General President Georgie Somerset.

Anyone who’s experienced first-hand the potentially perilous conditions at an overseas wet market realises how lucky we are in this country to enjoy the abundance of high-quality food available on our supermarket shelves.

We take it for granted – we must. How else can we begin to explain the events 20 years ago when our Prime Minister at the time put pen to paper during ‘COP3’ at Kyoto.

In doing so he committed agriculture – Queensland agriculture almost exclusively – to strict vegetation management regulations that have negatively impacted producers and landscapes ever since.

What made matters worse was that industry had no idea it was coming – we were not part of the decision-making process, we were not consulted, we simply bore the brunt of reducing emissions for every single Australian.

But as agriculture has a habit of doing, we turned this negative into something positive – something truly inspiring – becoming the only industry since Kyoto was ratified to materially lower its emissions.

Importantly, our work in this area has only just started. Industry can and will continue to make a real difference in the next phase on climate. But it will do a much better job if it’s included as an equal partner in the conversations, and in the planning – something missing 20 years ago.

That’s not to say agriculture wants to continue doing all the heavy lifting on emissions reduction for Australia without help from other sectors – far from it.

But as one of the lowest cost options available to governments, the very real risk exists that they will continue to impose on industry yet further punitive legislative measures and costs, solidifying – at least in the minds of those opposed to agriculture – our place as environmental villains, when nothing could be further from the truth.

There’s no other way to say it: What happens in Glasgow in less than a month has the potential to influence industry’s future for decades.

But AgForce, through its years of long-form policy work, has been preparing for this moment.

Our AgCarE program – while born out of our membership’s frustration at not being able to adequately access the practical next steps to allow their family farming businesses to make a positive difference to the climate and the environment – provides a genuine avenue for low cost, medium risk options related to carbon abatement, drought mitigation, improved biodiversity, and sustainable long-term landscape management and business resilience.

We will continue to develop this program and encourage governments to adopt it over current expensive, enormously complex options on offer that are plainly out of reach of most farming families.

We will also spend the weeks in the lead up to COP26 working with the National Farmers’ Federation to lobby Government with everything we have to ensure agriculture receives due recognition for what it has already done on climate – and to secure equal partner status in any discussions around what we as a nation do moving forward.

That’s why it’s vital every single person living in rural and regional Queensland plays their role in helping spread the news about the positive role industry has already played in reducing emissions on behalf of the wider Australian community.

We need everyone to understand what we already know – agriculture isn’t separate from the rest of the community, but integral to it.

Join AgForce in the conversation on COP26 in Glasgow by using #standwithregqld.