9 April 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO

We are only a quarter of the way through 2024 and already the Federal Government’s ‘Nature Positive Plan’ appears in trouble.

We await the government’s expected carving up of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) package, yet eleven academics in Australia have completed a study that suggests Australia’s carbon credits system is a failure on a global scale.

While the Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will not confirm her plans for the future of the EPBC package, she says the Government is working ‘methodically’ on ‘sensible updates’ that would improve the nation’s nature laws for business and the environment, and a peer reviewed study.

The respected spinoff publication from the Nature Journal - called Communications Earth & Environment - has released research analysing 182 projects in arid and semi desert areas and found cover had either barely grown or gone backwards in more than 80% of cases.  

But despite this mounting list of challenges, it doesn’t necessarily mean the outlook for agriculture amid all this tumult is bleak.

In fact, the opportunity grows - firstly from the renewed interest from Federal Government in strong consultation, collaboration, and co-design in ensuring our new EPBC Act protects Natural Capital assets. This also allows landowners to enhance those assets for production and productivity gains.  

Let’s take AgForce’ s current campaign against the ludicrous Glencore proposal to pump waste into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) (see here for more), which given it was not captured by the current provisions of the EPBC Act, highlights the inadequacies of the Act in its complete inability to protect one of our most valuable environmental assets.

Among other things we are strongly advocating for, are strengthening current water resource protections, and broadening the scope of protections.  

Make no mistake, resolving our current GAB issues needs to be achieved at the federal level, with the EPBC Act overhaul central to that.

The opportunity grows secondly from the conversations about Carbon Credits.  

AgForce has lobbied consistently and strongly for some years now that it is critical to think of Natural Capital in terms of keeping the value of those environmental assets on farm. This would strengthen biodiversity and landscape outcomes alongside lifting agricultural productivity and providing alternative income streams for producers.  

We have meticulously built our method of baselining and holding that value on property by designing AgCarE for landholders - with their direct input.      
The next couple of years will be critical for our industry, and by taking the positive approach - we can lean into these conversations, bringing to bear all the work AgForce has done to date for the benefit of our landscapes, community, industry, and food security in Australia.

Let’s not waste the opportunity.