Senior Nationals representatives such as Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce are waiting to see what benefits they can secure for their constituents in a climate deal, while several representatives like Senator Matt Canavan oppose emissions reduction targets.
Mr Morrison has said no future climate policies under his government would ask rural industries to bear the cost of emissions reduction.
General manager of the Australian Farm Institute think tank Katie McRobert said much of the industry recognises the need to set emissions deadlines, but there are “barriers to participation in carbon farming markets and commitment to net zero targets”.
“Some agriculture industries are much better placed than others to reduce the source of emissions, some to store carbon. Some are well-placed to do both, but again you have to factor in differences – which are vast across Australia – in soil types, rainfall and vegetation, the key determinants of carbon capture reliability,” Ms McRobert said.
EY’s report said going greener would help Australian agriculture secure access to premium international markets that are increasingly demanding sustainable credentials from major exporters like Australia.
Around 70 per cent of the food and fibre grown in Australia is sold offshore, comprising about 14 per cent of the nation’s total exports and 2 per cent of GDP. The sector employs more than 300,000 workers and this year reached a record $73 billion gross value of production on the back of strong livestock markets and grain harvests.
The National Farmers’ Federation has set a target for net zero emissions by 2050. Industry peak lobby group GrainGrowers has endorsed the NFF’s plans and committed to develop a grain-specific target for 2030 within the next 18 months. The red meat sector set a goal in 2017 to reach net zero by 2030.