Carbon Farming Initiative - Agricultural Advisors Workshops

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Other formats

This information is also available in the following formats:

CFI for Advisors Workshop Australian Schedule

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry hosted 21 Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) workshops for agricultural advisors in regional centres around Australia during May and June 2012. These workshops provided advisors with an opportunity to learn about the CFI and to discuss the prospects and challenges of the scheme for their region. Through the discussion session, advisors identified what further information they and their clients would like to have about the CFI and the best mechanisms to receive the information. The evaluation of the workshops showed 89.7 per cent of attendees found the workshop useful. Read more about the findings of the workshops and how the information gathered will be used in the summary report.

Venues and dates of the workshops were
State Location Venue Date
NSW Wagga Wagga Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute Thursday May 17
NSW Orange Orange Agricultural Institute Friday May 18
NSW Casino Casino RSM Club Monday May 21
NSW Armidale Armidale City Bowling Club Tuesday May 22
NSW Narrabri Narrabri RSL Memorial & Citizens Club Wednesday May 23
SA Clare Clare Golf Club Wednesday May 23
SA Murray Bridge Murray Bridge & District Community Club Thursday May 24
SA Naracoorte Naracoorte Town Hall Friday May 25
QLD Roma Roma Turf Club Monday May 28
QLD Toowoomba Highfields tavern Tuesday May 29
QLD Longreach Longreach Regional Council Tuesday May 29
QLD Emerald Emerald Golf Club Wednesday May 30
QLD Mackay Magpie Sporting Club Thursday May 31
NT Darwin Mantra Pandanas Friday June 1
TAS Launceston The Tramsheds Monday June 4
VIC Leongatha Leongatha RSL Tuesday June 5
VIC Shepparton Quest Shepparton Wednesday June 6
VIC Hamilton Grange Burn Thursday June 7
WA Northam Northam Country Club Tuesday June 12
WA Katanning New Lodge Motel Wednesday June 13
WA Margaret River Australis Margaret River Thursday June 14

Summary Report CFI Workshop Series for Agricultural Advisors

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to inform workshop participants of the findings of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) workshop series for agricultural advisors and how the information gathered at the workshops will be used.

Background

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Clean Energy Regulator hosted 21 CFI workshops in regional centres around Australia for agricultural advisors in May and June 2012.

The workshops were intended as a two way information flow on the CFI between farm advisory personnel and the government. They provided an opportunity for advisors to learn about the CFI and to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the scheme for their region. Advisors were also asked to identify what further information they and their clients would like to have about the CFI and the best mechanisms to receive this information. The feedback will help guide and prioritise the communication activities to be conducted under the Carbon Farming Futures Extension and Outreach Program which will be launched by DAFF in the second half of 2012.

The primary target audience for the workshops was government and private organisations that provide advice and services to farmers and landholders. This included but was not limited to:

  • Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Extension Officers in each state
  • Catchment Management Authorities
  • Local Councils
  • Agribusinesses
  • Agronomists
  • State farming federations
  • Industry associations.

Findings

Several themes emerged throughout the workshop series as reflected in the following sections:

1. Communication

Simplifying the message

Farmers and advisors are seeking more simplified and consistent language and messages. The complexity of the information and inconsistency of delivery by different groups has resulted in attendees feeling overwhelmed by the initiative. This has also contributed to uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the program.

Trusted advisors

Farmers and advisors want local, trusted advisors with a CFI ‘stamp of approval’ - someone they can go to for CFI related information that is relevant to their industry and region and know they’ll get the most up to date, accurate responses.

Facts and figures

Advisors seek hard evidence, case studies, success stories and financial modelling. Regional and industry specific case studies were identified as being critical to the education process and CFI uptake.

“We need the building blocks and the answers now–we can’t go out there without them.”

Casting a wider net

Given carbon credits are a financial product, education about the CFI needs to expand to a broader pool of influencers within the agricultural industry and should include bank managers, financial advisors, accountants etc.

Execution

Information should be delivered through multiple channels, accounting for the varied ways in which the audience wishes to receive information. Examples include a centralised website, appropriate contact information for relevant individuals/organisations, online and offline resources, face-to-face workshops, field days, industry forums, radio news updates and on-the-ground projects with relevant examples.

2. CFI fundamentals

The presentation at the workshops prompted very detailed and specific questions from the audience.

The recurring lines of questioning are outlined below.

Theme Questions
Project Approval – The 7 Steps

“It seems getting a project up is a hell of a battle”
  • There is not enough detail and direction on how to complete each step. Where do I start?
  • How long does it take to get a project approved?
  • Once a project is approved, how long does it take to accrue carbon credits?
  • Who approves these projects?
  • We need examples of additionality, common practice and the integrity principle to determine whether or not we’ll be able to meet the criteria.
  • It is a complex and arduous process
Methodologies

“There are not enough methodologies developed”

“Where is the science to support the methodologies?”
  • There are only four methodologies - how long is going to take to get more approved?
  • How will approved methodologies account for advances in farming practices given the lengthy time frame?
  • Where can I get financial support to develop a methodology?
  • Who approves the methodologies?
  • Who owns the IP for a new methodology?
Accreditation

“Who do we rely on for accreditation?”
  • Is there an accreditation process for aggregators?
  • What are the rules and regulations surrounding accreditation?
  • How will this work in my region?
  • How can I be assured that aggregators are reputable, understand the legislation, have accurate CFI information and can be trusted?
Cost vs benefit

“What’s in it for me?”
  • How much money can advisors and farmers make?
  • What will it cost to get a project approved?
  • What are the ongoing reporting and administration costs for a project?
  • How does the CFI affect the value of my land?
  • What are the benefits? Is this just about financial gain or best practice and doing the right thing? Or both?
  • How will the CFI support best practice?
  • How does this product affect the rest of my business?
  • What are the business risks?
  • Where are the tax breaks/benefits?
The Carbon market

“What if the new Government decides to pull out?”
  • What are my credits worth if they are not recognised by the Kyoto agreement?
  • What happens if Australia one day pulls out of Kyoto?
  • How can I trade my carbon credits? How will the domestic market work vs the international market?
  • Are there examples of other commodities that carbon can be compared with?
  • What is the floating price?
  • What is the floor price?
  • What happens if there is a natural disaster?
Project flexibility

“Farming practices are constantly changing - when does uncommon practice become common practice?”
  • What does the CFI mean for forestry vs livestock vs cane growing vs organic farming?
  • Does the CFI support small scale and large scale farming?
  • Does the CFI apply to individuals?
100 Timeframe

“The 100 years is just not on”
  • How does the 100 year rule impact our business?
  • What happens when I sell my land?
  • Who has ultimate responsibility for the project?
  • What happens if I decide to sell my land?
Auditing

“Who can I trust?”
  • How does the auditing process work?
  • Who does the auditing?
  • How is auditing regulated for the CFI?
  • How often does auditing take place and what are the costs?
Other implications
  • What happens if there is a change of government?
  • What happens to my project if there is a natural disaster?
  • Will there be any safeguards against mining companies holding on to “unproductive” land for the CFI rather than making it available for agricultural use.
  • How does the CFI affect superannuation entitlements and business tax?

3. Group discussions: what are advisors seeking?

The group discussion outcomes that have been outlined below featured in at least 95 per cent of the individual workshops.

Opportunities for advisors
  • To increase income stream for advisors
  • Encourage best practice
  • Encourage innovation, research and development
  • Create good news stories about agriculture
  • New market opportunities
Challenges for advisors
  • Complex and confusing language Unclear definitions (common practice, additionality, integrity principle)
  • Lack of hard evidence, facts and answers
  • Scepticism and uncertainty about the value of the initiative
  • 100 year permanency rule
  • Reporting and administrative costs
  • Limited approved methodologies
  • Arduous approval process
  • Confusion about who to go to for answers
  • Mixed messages about the CFI from multiple sources
  • Change of government implications
  • Long timeframe between starting a project and reaping the financial rewards
  • Risk of market failure
Information gaps for advisors
  • Lack of case studies
  • Locally relevant information and examples
  • Detail, detail, detail
  • Knowledge gaps as a result of project infancy and the unknown
  • Clearer description of the 7 Step Process
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Updates and access to research
  • Understanding the non-financial benefits
  • Information about the ‘financial product’, market and relating issues (loans, insurance, land value)
  • Information about new research and methodologies
  • Latest international news
  • Education and detailed training for advisors
  • Risk analysis
  • The relationship between all interested and involved parties (no clear link between Government departments)
  • Where to go and who to go to for information
  • What will be on the positive and negative list
Information delivery for advisors
  • Central online information portal
  • Fact sheets
  • Case studies
  • Digital and hard copy toolkit
  • Online e-learning
  • Face-to-face
  • Action on the ground programs
  • Two-way communication
  • Advisor hotline (advisors to call DAFF)
  • Small group discussions
  • Access to government personnel on a regular basis
  • Smart phone app
  • Consistent messages
  • Simple language
  • Road shows/workshops
  • Database of frequently asked questions

4. Group discussion: what are farmers seeking?

The group discussion outcomes that have been outlined below featured in at least 95 per cent of the individual workshops.

Opportunities for farmers
  • To increase income stream for farmers
  • Improve farming practices
  • Encourage best practice
  • Raise awareness of our carbon footprint
  • Farm diversification
  • New market opportunities
Challenges for farmers
  • Complex and confusing language
  • Lack of hard evidence, facts and answers
  • Scepticism and uncertainty about the value of the initiative
  • 100 year permanency rule
  • Reporting and administrative costs
  • Limited approved methodologies
  • Arduous approval process
  • Confusion about where to go for credible information
  • Confusion about who to go to for answers
  • Mixed messages about the CFI from multiple sources
  • Long timeframe between starting a project and reaping the financial rewards
  • Farmers are time poor and lack resources
  • Risk of market failure
Information gaps for farmers
  • Lack of case studies
  • Locally relevant information and examples
  • Cost benefit analysis
  • Understanding the non-financial benefits
  • Information about the ‘financial product’, market and relating issues (loans, insurance, land value)
  • Education and detailed training for farmers
  • Risk analysis
  • Where to go and who to go to for information
Information delivery for farmers
  • Central online information portal
  • Fact sheets
  • Case studies
  • Digital and hard copy toolkit
  • Online e-learning
  • Action on the ground programs
  • Face-to-face
  • Trusted advisors with local knowledge
  • Two-way communication
  • Flexible, taking into account the varying age groups, access to technology, background etc.
  • On-site field days
  • Rural media (radio and print)
  • Smart phone app
  • Mentor system between farmers and advisors
  • Consistent messages
  • Simple language
  • Road shows/workshops
  • Database of frequently asked questions

Feedback from attendees

Of the 457 attendees across the workshop series, 312 completed the hard copy survey.

When asked to rate from 1-6 their level of familiarity with a range of CFI elements, this is how they responded:

  • Before the workshop, 85% of attendees rated three or less for their familiarity.
  • Before the workshop, 15% of attendees rated more than three for their familiarity.
  • After the workshop, 36% of attendees rated three or less for their familiarity.
  • After the workshop, 63.1% of attendees rated more than three for their familiarity.

The overall evaluation of the workshop series was:

  • 89.7% of attendees found the workshop useful
  • 1.6% of attendees did not find the workshop useful
  • 8.7% of attendees weren’t sure

“Thanks so much, I’m looking forward to the next one in six months.”

“Good length, direct good information, excellent question time.”

“Good workshop - further events to elaborate would be useful.”

“The information package is very useful.”

“Well presented with good knowledge.”

“This was great, now you have our email please keep us informed of upcoming workshops.”

“Enjoyed the workshop. Was a good opportunity to find basic information. Next time I would like to see if there are more opportunities to ask questions.”

“Good discussion and well presented.”

“Would like more depth on economics.”

“If presented to farmers it will need to be more structured. Before, start an overview of where this came from and what is in it for farmers.”

“Lack of researchers - you want us to use to prove what we are doing is a benefit to carbon faming.”

“Do not assume the audience is across all the terminology – slow down.”

“There is a lot of information to absorb, so I think the simpler the initial message is, the better.”

“Would like to see more engagement how to find out how to make the CFI work, not what the government wants to work.”

“Information was good but would like to see more solid examples in the next workshop.”

Next steps

To help advisors, farmers and land managers to fully and effectively participate in the CFI, DAFF has an ongoing role in producing a range of information, communication products and delivering other communication activities. The workshop feedback will be used to guide and prioritise our work and investments.

DAFF is set to launch the Carbon Farming Futures Extension and Outreach Program that provides funding for developing information and tools, increasing awareness and building capacity and capabilities of farmers and land managers. The workshop feedback has been taken into account in designing this program in ensuring that the program will meet the varying needs of farm advisors and farmers and fill information gaps.

As the Clean Energy Future Plan and the CFI are whole-of-government initiatives, DAFF is not the only department interacting with stakeholders. Other government departments such as the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency are also developing and providing information on CFI. We have shared the workshop feedback with other agencies as we believe there were good messages for all CFI activities.

We have also taken on board the other feedback that helps improve the delivery of our future workshops.