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Drought policy and emissions trading discussed at Ministerial Council.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Drought policy and emissions trading discussed at Ministerial Council

19 September 2008 DAFF08/123B

Improving national drought policy and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme were the two key issues discussed at today’s Primary Industries Ministerial Forum in Canberra.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said it was a constructive meeting with his state and territory counterparts.

Ministers were briefed on the progress of work by the Productivity Commission and Social Expert Panel on Drought, as part of the overall national review of drought policy.

They also discussed the on-going work to investigate issues surrounding the measurement and mitigation of carbon emissions in agricultural industries.

“The Rudd Government will continue to work constructively with the state and territory governments on addressing these important national issues,” Mr Burke said.

“Ministers today again recognised that the frequency and severity of droughts will likely increase.

“It is also clear that governments will continue to have a strong role in helping farmers and communities to prepare for, and adapt to, climate change.

“Part of that is ensuring the drought support system better reflects the new reality of climate change.

“Today’s meeting agreed that the current system can create divisions between those who are eligible for assistance and those who are not.”

Ministers today agreed that to improve drought policy, greater emphasis needs to be placed on providing farmers with user-friendly climate projections and improving the delivery of drought social support services including counselling and community events.

It was also reaffirmed that rules for Exceptional Circumstances drought assistance would not change for producers currently receiving assistance.

The Ministerial Forum agreed to establish a high-level working group to ensure a coordinated national response to climate change mitigation and adaptation in the agriculture sector.

The group will consider research, development and extension needs prior to making a decision in 2013 about agriculture’s possible inclusion in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

It will encourage collaboration among state, territory and federal governments to reduce carbon emissions in agriculture.

It is expected the working group will begin work early in 2009.