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New ministerial powers for carbon farming

Native forest regeneration projects will be able to be stopped if they have a negative impact on agriculture or regional communities, under new government powers.

From April 8, the agriculture minister will have a veto power over the carbon farming projects that are part of the emissions reduction fund.

The rules will apply to native forest regeneration projects that cover more than 15 hectares and more than one-third of a farm.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the changes would help safeguard regional communities.

“As the emissions reduction fund continues to grow, it’s important that we get the balance right between managing land, storing carbon and ensuring the (fund) has a positive impact on agricultural production,” he said.

“Carbon service providers and project proponents have an important role to play in safeguarding the emission reductions fund’s licence to operate.”

The changes will also see regeneration projects also be required to report their compliance with other government requirements to mange pests and weeds.

Mr Taylor said the changes would boost confidence among regional communities in the scheme.

More than $2 billion has been set aside for carbon farming projects in regional areas.

“The Morrison government will ensure farmers retain control over their properties and have freedom to take part in emission reduction fund activities,” Mr Taylor said.

“Carbon farming projects in regional Australia … are providing new opportunities for land managers to generate revenue by earning credits for reducing greenhouse gases.”

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said it was important carbon farming projects did not adversely affect regional areas.

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen instead in some cases are projects that negatively impact the neighbours and towns,” he said.

“We want carbon farming projects to benefit Australian agriculture and regional communities, to reward farmers for good environmental stewardship and provide drought resilient income that is spent in town.”

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