Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack's campaign to have agriculture excluded from a net zero emissions target by 2050 has drawn a mixed response from Riverina farmers, with some welcoming the potential cost savings.
Mr McCormack told Sky News on Sunday that he backed the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's position that regional Australia was "not going to pick up the bill for anything that we're doing towards zero net emissions by 2050".
Glen Andreazza, whose 370 hectare property at Willbriggie, south of Griffith, produces rice, wheat and corn, welcomed Mr McCormack's efforts as it would be "horrendously expensive" to reduce or offset all farming emissions.
"The amount of emissions from producing meat from animals is just as bad, so it will make horticulture more expensive and it will be more expensive to the end user," he said.
"I'd say it could put farmers out of business."
The methane released as a byproduct of digestion in cattle and sheep makes up a majority of the greenhouse gas produced by the Australian agriculture industry.
The Andreazza family was awarded NSW Farmers of the Year in 2018 partially based on their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Andreazza said his farm's main source of emissions was burning diesel in tractors and there were a lot of equipment and running costs to reduce it further.
"Everything just compounds and becomes more expensive. I think we should reduce emissions as much as we can but when they talk about zero emissions by a certain target, it's just unachievable," he said.
Mr McCormack said "it will be technology not taxes that get us there" to a target on reducing emissions that contribute to climate change and that the year 2050 was "a long way off" and he was "certainly not worried about what might happen in 30 years' time".
"We've encountered drought, we've had bushfires impacting regional Australia ... and then of course we had COVID-19," he said.
"The whole nation, the whole world is doing its best to recover from that. And there is no way known that we are going to whack regional Australia, hurt regional Australia in any way, shape or form to get a target for climate in 2050. It's not going to happen."
Wagga farmer Rick Storrier, who has a family background in broadacre irrigation but is working on setting up a small-scale vegetable operation, said Mr McCormack's stance was a reflection of "short-sighted" policies.
"I think in general, our government has a very short-sighted view and they don't look too far into the future when making decisions," he said.
"They make decisions based on 'how do we keep a job today' rather than 'how do we create an environment that we'd like to pass on to our children and grandchildren'.
"If we looked at how the Earth would look in 100 years' time, the questions and answers would be very different."