Program 1.1: Tackling climate change

​​Program objectives

  • to strengthen the capacity for primary producers to adapt and adjust to a changing climate while maintaining productivity
  • Australian farmers and land managers participate in, and benefit from, the carbon crediting scheme by generating carbon offset credits that can be sold in domestic and international carbon markets.

Program description

The Securing a Clean Energy Future plan aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive investment in renewable energy. DAFF worked through the Carbon Farming Futures program to support advances in land management for emissions reduction, while maintaining productivity.

Our support of research, on-farm trials and extension and outreach activities helped farmers and land managers benefit from the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), by providing options to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and/or sequester carbon in the landscape. More information is available at climate ch​ange.

ABARES provided high-quality scientific and economic research to enhance the understanding of the carbon offsets market and to support the implementation of the CFI. The timely research is peer-reviewed and published in various reports available at ABARES publications.

We worked with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide access to the Transitional Farm Family Payment (TFFP). This payment helps families who are experiencing financial difficulty to manage the impacts of climate variab​ility and market fluctuations. The payment will be available to farm families until 30 June 2014 or until the TFFP program funds are fully expended (whichever occurs first).

We also oversaw the Rural Financial Counselling Service’s delivery of TFFP case management services. Under the existing program guidelines, all TFFP recipients are required to work with a rural financial counsellor to develop and implement an action plan to improve their long-term financial security. More information is available at TFFP.

Key performance indicators

Table 2 Program 1.1—Tackling climate change—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator 2012–13 target Performance
2012–13 2011–12 2010–11
Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI)
Landcare Communications—timely communication to farmers and land managers about the CFI and the benefits of participation Regional Landcare Facilitators Forum—
168 activities across natural resource management regions a
Clean Energy Future—Creating Opportunities on the land­—extending the benefits of the Carbon Farming Initiative
Filling the Research Gap—support large-scale collaborative research projects with cross-sectoral application Minimum of 12 projects Met Met
Action on the Ground—support landholders to undertake on-farm projects to trial and demonstrate practices and technologies, to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions or to sequester carbon in soil Minimum of 45 projects Met Met
Extension and Outreach—provide coordinated and consistent technical information and support to farmers and land managers to increase knowledge of and enable participation in the CFI and carbon farming Establish national network of extension officers a Partially met Met
Transitional Farm Family Payment (TFFP)
Claims processed in accordance with the agreement with the Department of Human Services, which includes a specific level of timeliness and accuracy of payments and communication between agencies 95% a Met
Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) case manage TFFP recipients to develop an action plan to improve self reliance, preparedness for changing economic and climatic conditions and long-term financial security 100% a Met
Scientific and economic research
Underpinning research, advice, forecasts, projects, products and data services are delivered on time, within budget and are of high quality 85% a Met

a New performance indicator.


Delivering the Carbon Farming Initiative

We worked with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education to develop opportunities for agriculture and commercial forestry under the CFI. ABARES conducted ‘common practice’ assessments for a range of agricultural and forestry activities, supporting the development of the ‘positive list’ of CFI eligible activities and methodologies.

Nine methodologies were approved for agriculture-related activities. Farm forestry and establishing long-rotation hardwood plantations were also approved as eligible activities under the CFI. We worked with industry bodies and state forestry organisations to finalise a methodology for long-rotation hardwood plantations.

CFI communications

In 2012–13, 53 natural resource management region organisations participated in the CFI communications program. Regional Landcare Facilitators delivered more than 400 communication activities about the CFI. Information about the CFI and the opportunities it is creating for Australian agriculture reached more than 18 000 primary producers, landholders, foresters, extension officers and local communities.

Filling the Research Gap

In April 2013, 31 multi-year projects shared in almost $30 million in funding under Round 2 of the Filling the Research Gap program. The Round 2 projects built on and complemented 57 research projects that were funded under Round 1 of the program in 2011–12.

Around Australia, 55 partner organisations are undertaking these projects, whose research outcomes will support the development of offset methodologies under the CFI. Partner organisations include state government departments, research and development corporations, universities, private industry and international organisations.

Supporting Action on the Ground

Under Round 1 of the Action on the Ground program more than 150 project partners and 400 properties are participating in on-farm trials. The trials aim to validate approaches to agricultural greenhouse gas abatement, by taking research outcomes and trialling these in real farm operations. Outcomes from projects will assist in the development of CFI offset methodologies.

The 59 Round 1 projects, receiving up to a total of $25.2 million in funding, have communicated ongoing activities, results and analyses through more than 110 workshops/field days and 90 project-specific publications since their commencement in June 2012.

Round 2 of the Action on the Ground program closed in May 2013, with 138 applications received. Round 2 aimed to invest up to $19.1 million in new projects commencing in 2013–14.

Helping industry tackle climate change

In November 2012, competitive grants funding from 2012–13 to 2016–17 was made available through the Extension and Outreach program.

In April 2013, the first 24 projects received a total of $21.3 million in funding under the program. These projects began in May 2013 to benefit some of Australia’s largest agricultural industries, including livestock, dairy, horticulture, cotton and grains, as well as fertiliser users, agricultural advisors and young farmers.

With the first projects underway, the program’s target to establish a national network of extension officers is on track . The second assessment phase for the program closed in June 2013, with 91 applications received.

The department’s target for this key performance indicator was ‘partially met’ in 2012–13.

Supporting farming families

We continued to work with DHS to ensure eligible farmers were able to access financial support under the Transitional Farm Family Payment program. In 2012–13, a total of 743 farmers received the payment.

We also managed the transition of eligible farmers to the TFFP from the Transitional Income Support and Farm Family Support programs, the latter of which was trialled as part of the Western Australia pilot of drought reform measures. Both of these programs, which closed in 2011–12, included payment recipients who had received less than 12 months of assistance, who were eligible for further support under the TFFP.

Rural financial counsellors provided case management support to 640 TFFP recipients. Counsellors assisted the recipients in developing an action plan to improve their long-term financial position.

Scientific and economic research

Carbon Farming Initiative

In August 2012, ABARES released its proposed common practice framework for the CFI additionality test. Using the framework and in-house expertise, ABARES conducted a series of high-quality common practice assessments for the then Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. These assessments covered a wide range of forestry and agricultural activities and practices including conservation tillage and stubble retention for a range of farming activities.

In March 2013, ABARES released a study on the technical and economic abatement potential of the Australian agricultural sector under the CFI. The report suggests many abatement technologies and strategies are technically feasible, but that cost-effectiveness is the most important factor in ensuring any strategy is widely adopted. Manure management on large-scale piggeries is one of the most prospective technologies for low-cost abatement activities.

World leading research

The expertise of ABARES officers in integrated research has been recognised with one of our staff selected as a lead author for the Fifth Assessment Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Dr Helal Ahammad, Assistant Secretary of the ABARES Climate Change and Variability Branch, is contributing to Chapter 11 on ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses’.

The IPCC is the leading body assessing climate change. Dr Ahammad’s IPCC engagement offers valuable opportunities to share ABARES research and interact with the world’s leading climate change experts and decision-makers. This also brings valuable experience and policy insights to bear on ABARES research and policy advice in the area.

The Fifth Assessment Report 'Mitigation of Climate Change' is scheduled to be completed in April 2014.


A key challenge for the CFI Communications and Extension and Outreach programs was ensuring that the information provided meets the needs of individuals and businesses across Australia’s wide-ranging agricultural industries. We worked closely with our partner agencies, researchers, extension providers, farmers, land managers and others to produce, facilitate and manage communication in a way that is meaningful and practical for our stakeholders.

For the Filling the Research Gap program, the challenge was to ensure the ongoing national coordination of research themes across the program to reduce duplication of research and improve the overall research outcomes of the program.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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