Thursday, February 11, 2010

Farmers to “own” soil carbon trading

Farmers can only avoid the sharks in the coming soil carbon market if they take control of it for themselves, says farmers’ group Carbon Farmers of Australia. They can take advantage of the early notice of the coming market in soil carbon to join with other farmers to form trading ‘groups’ and stand their ground on price.
“When the Government and the Opposition made their announcements about soil carbon, nobody thought to ask farmers about the price they are expected to accept,” says Carbon Farmers’ Director Michael Kiely. “Prices from $5 and $8 a tonne for CO2 stored in soil have been floated – but farmers we have consulted so far say these prices as not covering the risk they are expected to take.”
“To get the uptake by farmers the country needs to tackle the CO2 problem, prices will have to start at $25-$30,” says Kiely. Carbon Farmers are conducting a series of 2-day workshops which prepare the farmers to trade in the Prime Carbon system and at the same time canvass their views on such issues as price. They are in Tamworth on 16th-17th February, and Bungendore the week afterwards, having already met with farmers in Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Young and Moree.
“The Minister for Agriculture Tony Burke told us that he was very pleased to hear that these meetings are being held and farmers are learning about the benefits of soil carbon,” says Michael Kiely.
Under the National Carbon Offset Standard, released last December by the Commonwealth Government, the market can open from July this year. The only program ready to go is run by Prime Carbon which has submitted its system to the Government for approval. “Carbon Farmers of Australia is a not-for-profit ‘growers’ representative. We advise the grower and represent them in disputes and negotiations, if necessary,” says Kiely, who with his wife and fellow Director Louisa have campaigned for four years as Convenors of the Carbon Coalition to win for farmers the right to trade soil carbon. They are woolgrowers from near Wellington, NSW.

The 2-day “Boot Camp” is Free To Farmers (Farm Ready Approved) which means that farmers are fully reimbursed for the cost which is $555 (incl. GST.) The workshop takes participants through the A-to-Z of Carbon, Soil Carbon, How to Grow it and sell it and hold onto it. A copy of the book Practical Carbon Farming is given to each attendee.
Call (02) 6374 0329

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