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I have just spent the last 2 days at the 6th annual 2012 Carbon Farming Conference and Awards Dinner in Dubbo. Michael and Louisa Kiely should feel very proud of their achievements in running another very successful forum with an excellent range of speakers; farmers, researchers, politicians, economists, lawyers; you name it they were all there. And for good reason – because I feel that the issue of carbon farming is finally starting to get somewhere!

Obviously one of the main items of discussion was the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) and the future potential for farmers to be involved in this program through carbon sequestration. Whilst it is clear that there are still some hurdles to overcome, quite a deal of work is being done to prepare methodologies for carbon sequestration for cropping and grazing situations to put before the Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee (DOIC) for assessment.

Two hurdles currently creating large impediments for approval by farmers are “additionality” – whether the farming system you propose to use “adds value” to the status quo and secondly, “permanence” (the 100 year rule). The Federal MP and Parliamentary Secretary DCCEE, the Hon. Mark Dreyfus reiterated the Federal Labour Party needs to continue its 100 year rule to meet its Kyoto Protocol requirements, whilst the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage put forward an alternative idea of 25 years. Other alternatives were also proposed – the one that interested me the most was proposed by Tony O’Hara from HHM Management (who John Lawrie currently works with) for tCER’s (temporary Certified Emission Reductions) which would have a 15 year contract but would attract less payment per tonne of carbon, a scenario that I think most farmers would accept just so they can start to trade.

It was also exciting to hear Alistair Handley speak about the trading environment he has been involved in Alberta Canada for the past 6 years. His company, Carbon Credit Solutions, is the largest privately held carbon offset aggregation business in Alberta and has generated over 1.3 million tonnes of verified carbon credits.

The Conference closed with an air of anticipation based on current activities in soil carbon measurement. Terry McCosker from RCS (Grazing For Profit) left us hanging stating that a new methodology will be forthcoming around March next year. This system will be very expansive and will enable us as farmers to get involved in the business of creating carbon credits through soil sequestered carbon. We will wait in expectation!!