Local grazier Peter Yench is hoping his win last week of the ‘Carbon Cocky of the Year’ award will help to throw a spotlight on carbon farming and bring about changes to its methodology.
The National Carbon Cocky Awards recognise excellence in carbon farming and emissions reduction techniques which deliver improved soil carbon sequestration and water management.
The awards also recognise landholders who have developed innovative techniques or inventions to improve farm-based carbon storage or emissions reduction.
After being a Carbon Cocky finalist in 2015, Mr Yench well and truly “scooped the pool” this year when he was presented with the ‘2019 Carbon Cocky of the Year’ trophy during the National Carbon Farming Conference and Expo in Albury last week.
Mr Yench was this year a finalist in four of the 13 categories and, in addition to receiving the top gong, he also won the Outstanding Performance in Tree or Native Vegetation Carbon Sequestration category and was Highly Commended for Improved Water Management On Farm.
Carbon Farmers of Australia director Louisa Kiely said Mr Yench was a well deserved winner of the award.
“Peter has been a pioneer and an early adopter for a long time,” Ms Kiely said.
“Peter was one of the first to take up a carbon farming project in his area, then spreading the word about how this can be good for his area, and farmers in general.
“Once he understood that the ‘rules’ are not conducive to a vast majority of farmers taking part, he has been a vocal proponent for changing the rules,” she said.
“Further, he has engaged with new methods which are applicable in the soil carbon projects, again showing the way for others.
“It is this type of leadership which is needed to ensure that carbon farming can be mainstreamed for all farmers,” Ms Keily said.
Mr Yench said carbon farming is win-win for the economy and the environment, but changes and new methodology are needed.
“The methodology needs to be changed to suit our western environment,” he said.
In an effort to lobby the Federal Government for change, Mr Yench has written to Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce “and anyone else who might listen”.
“Western NSW has the potential to be the carbon catchment capital of Australia,” Mr Yench said.
“These awards prove that Cobar and the western area does have the ability to provide abatement in large quantities,” Mr Yench said.
“At present there are approximately 430 Western Land Leases in Cobar and only about 100 under the current methodology are entitled to carbon credits.
“We need to change the methodology to open it up to the other 300.”
He said the Western Division could be a leader and pilot for change and show the way for other regions and states.
“Carbon is something that can be grown on their property, like sheep, cattle or wheat, as a saleable item.”
Mr Yench said if more landholders were able to take up carbon farming, it could help them through tough times like the drought we are currently experiencing., saying it’s “better than Government hand-outs”.