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Farmers demand 'special' climate deal for flatulent cattle

'Limited in how much they can cut emissions'

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The International Federation of Agricultural Producers has asked for a "special deal" in climate negotiations, insisting there are "limits to what farmers could do to curb emissions" from the flatulent, burping cattle which contribute a fair whack of the 20 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions attributed to agricultural activities.

Environment ministers will meet in 2009 in Copenhagen to discuss a new global climate deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The Federation - which represents 600 million farmers and 115 farmer organisations across 82 countries - is concerned its members could be "saddled with excessive costs for curbing emissions", as Reuters puts it.

President Ajay Vashee, speaking to Oz's National Press Club in Canberra, "cautioned against imposing financial penalties on food production in order to cut greenhouse emissions". He said: "There is a certain threshold beyond which we cannot go below. It is important to realize the realities of the situation."

Instead, Vashee suggested, while farmers "should not be exempt from any measures to curb emissions", the powers that be should "recognize their role in growing essential food, and reward farmers who have protected landscape and wildlife habitats".

He concluded: "Carbon markets need to be appropriately designed so that farmers can effectively engage to be part of the solution."

To underline just how much nastiness is pouring forth from the world's cattle, Reuters explains that in Australia "70 per cent of agricultural emissions and 11 per cent of Australia's total emissions, come from the burping, flatulence and manure of sheep and cattle".

In total, 16 per cent of all Australia's emissions come from agriculture, but the government has said that the sector will enjoy a five-year exemption from its carbon trade regime, slated to come into force in July 2010. ®

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