A motion called Climate, Clearing and Cows is the main area of concern the agricultural industry has raised, but there are also concerns about a lack of agricultural input on an associated animal welfare panel.
The Climate, Clearing and Cows motion is being put forward by the Labor Environmental Action Network or LEAN. It calls for an end to land clearing for cattle, a shift to 100 percent plantation timber in its place and halving of methane emissions before 2030. LEAN is reported to be one of the largest groups within the party. The 49th ALP National Conference runs from 17-19 August.
National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson has been calling for party delegates to make sure the proposed policy does not prevail.
“This is not a sensible policy for a mainstream political party.
“Voting this through would be an open armed embrace of fringe views that are anti-science and anti-farming,” Ms Simson said.
“It goes beyond the government’s very recent commitment to the Global Methane Pledge, it massively exceeds the IPCC’s own advice, and it’s scientifically impossible without cutting herd numbers – something the government is on record opposing.
“Australia has rigorous, science-based laws to protect the environment which have largely stabilised vegetation cover for years.”
Ms Simson said while the NFF predicted that logic will prevail, the policy was part of a concerning global trend.
“Delegates need to be clearheaded about what really matters to Australians and what the ALP stands for.
“Is it protecting jobs and tackling the cost of living? Or pleasing environmental outliers who have turned their back on science and common sense?” she said.
“We’ve seen governments globally fall victim to anti-farming policies which ignore the basic need to grow food and fibre and the community backlash that follows.
“We don’t want that style of politics to take root here.”
No ag voice in animal welfare panel
Animal welfare is on the agenda for an event flanking the conference called the National Labor Fringe; however, concerns have been raised about the lack of agriculture input to these discussions.
One is a discussion about live sheep export with RSPCA chief science officer Dr Suzie Fowler starting a campaign to phase out the trade in this term of government.
There is also a panel on animal welfare with former Labor MP Dr Craig Emerson, Dr Jed Goodfellow, Australian Alliance for Animals, Nicola Beynon, Humane Society International Australia, and Ben Pearson, World Animal Protection Australia and New Zealand.
Cabinet sets government policy – Watt
Asked whether agriculture will have a say in the government’s policy, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said the National Conference allows for public and transparent debates about issues affecting all Australians.
“Delegates have a right to express and vote on whatever they like; however, it is the Cabinet that sets the government’s policy.
“Labor is proud to have many members from rural and regional Australia, who will be speaking up for their communities at our conference,” he said.
“We invite all who share our vision of a prosperous, sustainable agriculture industry to join their local Labor branch, run for delegate and present those concerns on the floor of conference.”
Labor needs to be upfront with policy – Littleproud
Shadow agriculture minister David Littleproud said Labor needed to be upfront about its agricultural policies.
“Labor have taken to previous elections a policy of introducing National Vegetation Management laws, so they need to be honest and tell farmers exactly what they intend to implement.
“Labor don’t understand the world-leading landscape management practices that Australian farmers have adopted to ensure that what is best for their business is also best for the land.”