Monday, October 10, 2011

Is “Trade” the best option?

Some people dislike the notion of trading offsets as a way to reward farmers for environmental services. They give the following reasons: 1. Farmers should be doing the right thing anyway (ie. provide environmental services for free). 2. “Someone will make a lot of money out of it…” (ie. traders on-selling the units). 3. “It’s all bullsh--!” (ie. anything with the word ‘carbon’ in it is too hard to understand and is therefore a rort). One thing most people agree on is that our soils are degrading and farmland is badly in need of restoration. Our food production capacity is declining. If you think about it, there is no way we will get the maximum number of farmers to make the necessary changes to their management of soils without a system of incentive that is acceptable to the greatest number and is likely to last long enough to get the job done. The system that offers this is trade in offsets.

1. Farmers have demonstrated little enthusiasm for ‘doing the right thing anyway’ on the grounds that no other sector of the community is asked to work for free and, besides, they already do a lot for free. 2. The majority of farmers have not engaged in taxpayer-funded land management incentive programs in more than two decades in which billions of dollars were invested by governments in restoration programs. 3. Tax and spend programs last only until the next election cycle as politicial priorities change. 4. Farmers are comfortable growing and selling commodities. That’s what they do. They happily deal with middle men and there are windfall profit opportunities from futures trading. So the answer to the question, “Is Trade the best option?” is Yes. If you seriously want to see our agricultural soils restored and enriched, out waterways cleaned, our landscapes regenerated and biodiversity flourish – as soon as possible across the largest percentage of the 60% of the nation’s landmass used for agriculture - you'll support trade. No ideological position or personal squeamishness should stand in the way of the fastest, most complete shift in land management towards restoring health to our soils.

No comments: