Saturday, December 20, 2008

Caring for Country, not caring for you

The Caring For Our Country program could have been designed to defeat the cause of soil carbon offset trading. It seeks to encourage farmers to become Carbon Farmers, but forfeit their rights to trade by falling foul of the Additionality provisions of the Kyoto rules and by failing to insist that they be baselined so their soil carbon increases can be recorded.
Farmers are not being warned that if they make the change in land management for reasons other than sequestering carbon – such as the co-benefits like soil health, better water usage, higher production, etc. – they rule themselves out of the offset market. The profit motive could achieve many of the goals and targets set for NRM agencies. At no cost to the taxpayer. Polluter pays.
But that would be wrong. Far from replacing them, Carbon Trading would assist CMA’s to achieve their targets. And it will free CMAs to pursue other targets, free resources that would otherwise be tied up. However there is one more critical reason why CMAs should look forward to the day when soil carbon can be traded: it will create a generation of farmers who understand the NRM principles. It will establish a ‘farm ethic’ of sorts, or the seeds of one may be planted. So CMA officers will be dealing with educated farmers, who understand the value they can deliver. Bloody marvellous!

An ethic of farming

“What we are after is an ethic of farming, a philosophy of agriculture, with particular attention to agriculture’s impact upon and integration with the wider natural world.

“This philosophy is needed as much by those who eat as by those who farm. Food consumers see too little of farming to form an idea of agriculture. They demand traits and characteristics in their food that have little relation to its origins and production.

“The act of eating is split between the metaphors of refuelling at the pump, and pleasing the senses as one might at a concert or museum. Nearly gone is the spirit of raising food and eating it as an act of communion with some larger whole.”

Paul B. Thompson, The Spirit of the Soil

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