Programme 1.1 Tackling climate change

​​Programme objectives

  • strengthen the capacity of primary producers to adapt and adjust to a changing climate while increasing 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.

Programme description

Through the Carbon Farming Futures programme, we supported advances in land management practices and technologies aimed at reducing emissions while maintaining productivity.

Our support of research, on-farm trials and extension and outreach activities offered opportunities for farmers and land managers to participate in 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 on the department's website.

This work has continued through our involvement in the development of the proposed Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the Government’s flagship climate change response policy.

We worked with the Department of Human Services to provide eligible farmers with access to financial support under the Transitional Farm Family Payment (TFFP). From 1 March 2014, the TFFP was replaced by the Interim Farm Household Allowance (FHA).

Key performance indicators

Table 2 Programme 1.1—Tackling climate change—key performance indicators
Key performance indicator2013–14 targetPerformance
Filling the Research Gap–support large-scale collaborative research projects with cross-sectoral applicationMinimum of 70 projects aMetMetMet
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 soilMinimum of 75 projects aMetMetMet
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 farmingMaintain network. Increase knowledge of CFI and carbon farmingMetPartially 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 b95%MetMet-
Transitional Farm Family Payment–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 b100%MetMet-
Integrated scientific and economic research–underpinning research, advice, forecast, projects, products and data services meet stakeholder expectations and are delivered within agreed timelines and in line with international research standards85%MetMet-

a These targets were increased in 2013–14. b The Transitional Farm Family Payment was replaced by the Interim Farm Household Allowance on 1 March 2014.


Supporting farmers through change

The Transitional Farm Family Payment, administered by the Department of Human Services on behalf of the Department of Agriculture until the programme's closure on 28 February 2014, provided approximately $5.1 million in income support to 768 farm families in financial hardship during 2013–14.

In March 2014, the Interim FHA was introduced, replacing the TFFP. The Interim FHA helped farm families with their daily living expenses without the need for a drought declaration and was paid at a fortnightly rate equivalent to Newstart Allowance. The payment's asset test was more generous than the TFFP, allowing more farmers, including those affected by drought, to access income support.

On 1 March 2014, 459 recipients were automatically transferred to the new payment, with more than 1700 new recipients granted payment by 30 June 2014. The Interim FHA will be replaced by the permanent Farm Household Allowance from 1 July 2014.

Transitioning to the Emissions Reduction Fund

We continued to work with other agencies and our stakeholders on the design of the proposed ERF. This included policy work to enable a smooth transition to the ERF for CFI participants.

We worked with the Department of the Environment to develop carbon offset methodologies. As at 30 June 2014, 22 methodology determinations were available under the CFI. Of these, 16 methodologies cover the agriculture and forestry sectors. ABARES conducted two common practice assessments on feral water buffalo management and feedlot finishing of beef cattle from Australian rangelands.

We worked closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to develop the second of three biannual Land Management Practices Surveys (LaMPS). The data from the first survey supported assessments of potential activities under the CFI and improved the land management practice data and assumptions that underpin the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

Carbon Farming Futures

Filling the Research Gap

This programme continued to deliver 88 projects in partnership with 105 research and farm business organisations. Its outcomes have supported the development of carbon offset methodologies under the CFI and will continue to do so under the proposed ERF. Partner organisations included state government departments, research and development corporations, universities, private industry and international organisations. The programme also provided support for 41 new agricultural research doctorates, to help develop and expand Australia's agricultural research capacity.

Action on the Ground

This programme continued to deliver 88 projects involving more than 279 project partners on more than 535 properties. It assisted farmers and land managers to undertake on-farm trials of emission abatement technologies, practices and management strategies to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas while maintaining or enhancing productivity.

The trials aim to validate approaches to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by taking research outcomes and trialling these in real farm operations. Outcomes from these projects will assist with the future development of abatement methodologies.

Extension and outreach

This programme supported 24 projects to deliver current and consistent information about land sector emissions management and participation in the CFI to farmers, land managers and their key influencers. The programme built the capacity of the existing national extension network that farmers already use in making business decisions.

The programme also developed two new tools: the Carbon Farming Initiative Legal and Contracts Guide; and the online resource myCFI–Your Carbon Farming Gateway. More information.

The extension and outreach projects are providing information and advice to some of Australia's largest agricultural industries, including livestock, dairy, horticulture, cotton and grains, as well as fertiliser users, agricultural advisers and young farmers.

Scientific and economic research

Surveying land management practices

ABARES produced reports from the first Land Management Practices Survey, assisting the Department of the Environment to develop CFI methodologies and future methodologies under the proposed ERF. The reports investigated the adoption of a range of cropping, livestock and general land management practices across Australian regions and industries in 2011-12. Using the ABARES assessment framework, the reports highlighted land management practices that were 'common' or 'not common'.

ABARES provided additional advice to the Department of the Environment on nitrous oxide, soil carbon and perennial pastures to aid in the development of CFI methodologies.

ABARES has developed a database of land management practices for undertaking 'common practice' assessments. The database contains survey data from the LaMPS as well as data from previous Agricultural Resource Management Surveys.

Identifying options for change

We conducted a range of activities to provide information to the Government about how Australian agriculture can adapt to multiple drivers of change.

In January 2014, we worked with the Department of the Environment to produce a discussion paper on proposed indicators for good adaptation practices for agriculture, for an expert workshop on the proposed National Adaptation Assessment Framework. The framework will assess Australia's preparedness to manage the effects of unavoidable climate change.

ABARES research also examined past responses of Western Australian and Victorian farmers to multiple drivers of change, to enhance understanding of factors that enable and inhibit adaptation, the key challenges and the role of government.


Filling the Research Gap

We re-designed the delivery of Filling the Research Gap following the Government's announcement that the programme would terminate in 2016–17.

During this period of change, the programme was also the subject of independent audits by Deloitte and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to assess the effectiveness of the programme's delivery, including the management of grants. Overall, the findings of both audits were positive about the design and implementation of the programme, and the department accepted the recommendations of the ANAO audit report tabled in the Parliament in December 2013.

Extension and Outreach

The Extension and Outreach programme sought to meet individual and business needs for up-to-date carbon farming and CFI information. We worked to ensure extension providers received practical and timely information in a dynamic policy environment.

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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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