Carbon Farming Initiative Communications Program – targeted grants
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) Communications Program was in operation between 2010–13 to provide farmers, land managers and their key influencers with credible, clear and consistent information on the CFI. A proportion of funds were allocated to targeted grants for each of the 56 Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions. Regional Landcare Facilitators provided farmers and land managers with information on:
- the CFI, to enable them to make informed decisions about it
- how they might be able to participate in the CFI
- the productivity, economic and environmental benefits from creating land-based carbon credits.
Regional Landcare Facilitators worked closely with farmers, Indigenous Australians and other land managers to identify how they can participate in and benefit from the opportunities created by the CFI and carbon farming.
The CFI Communications Program guidelines outline eligibility and the process for funding.
Grant Program Guidelines
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a voluntary carbon offsets scheme being established by the Australian Government to enable farmers and other land managers, including Indigenous Australians, to undertake greenhouse gas abatement on the land and earn credits to trade in the carbon market.
Legislation to underpin the Carbon Farming Initiative was passed by Parliament on 23 August 2011 and the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) 2011 Act received royal assent on 15 September 2011. The scheme commenced on 8 December 2011.
The CFI will help Australian entities liable under the carbon price mechanism to meet their obligations and create economic opportunities for farmers and land managers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while building resilience in the land sector to deal with the impacts of climate change.
On 24 January 2011, the ministers for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency announced the CFI Communications Program in which Regional Landcare Facilitators (RLFs) would work closely with farmers and other land managers to identify how they can participate in and benefit from the opportunities created by the CFI.
The CFI Communications Program is closely connected to the Extension and Outreach component of the Carbon Farming Futures under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan. The CFI Communications Program will provide general information and direct interested people to where they can find out more. The Extension and Outreach Program will go further and be an advisory service providing technical information about and support for CFI project approval processes, integrating carbon management into farm planning and new research and farm techniques or land management decision support tools. Activities undertaken and communication material developed under the Extension and Outreach Program will build on and complement, but not duplicate, those under the CFI Communications Program.
The CFI Communications Program has total funding of $4 million over three financial years to 30 June 2014. Through this program initial grants of $30,000 (GST exclusive) (comprising $15,000 (GST exclusive) per financial year from 2011-12 to 2012-13) will be available to each Natural Resource Management (NRM) region1 Host Organisation2 for RLFs to disseminate and/or arrange the delivery/distribution of information on the CFI via communication activities. RLFs will draw on local expertise, including farming/industry groups and other NRM facilitators, in delivering communication activities.
The RLFs are funded under the Australian Government Regional Landcare Facilitator Initiative until 30 June 2013. The arrangements for the final year of the CFI Communications Program will be announced in the first half of 2013.
Purpose of program
The intended outcomes for the CFI Communications Program are farmers, land managers and their key influencers have improved levels of understanding of the CFI, the productivity, economic and environmental benefits from reducing or sequestering emissions and creating land based carbon credits, and how they might be able to economically participate in the CFI.
The objectives for this program are to provide farmers, land managers and their key influencers with credible, clear and consistent information on:
- the CFI so as to enable them to make informed decisions about the CFI
- how they might be able to participate in the CFI
- the productivity, economic and environmental benefits from creating land based carbon credits.
How the program will operate
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (or his delegate) will approve the funding under this grants program. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) will administer the program.
Once the minister or his delegate has approved the funding, each Host Organisation will be offered a grant of $30 000 (GST exclusive). All existing NRM region Host Organisations are automatically eligible for funding and there will be no application or assessment process. If a Host Organisation accepts a grant it will enter into a funding deed with DAFF. Funding will be paid in accordance with the funding deed. Upon signing the deed $30 000 (GST exclusive) will be allocated to the Host Organisation across two financial years for RLFs, on behalf of the Host Organisation, to conduct or organise activities in accordance with the objectives of the program, these guidelines and the funding deed. Upon execution of the deed the RLF may commence activities. Funding will only cover activities delivered after the date the deed is signed.
Host Organisations are to expend funding on communication activities in line with agreed deliverables within the funding deed and according to the specific needs and level of demand in the relevant NRM region.
It is highly desirable that communication activities delivered by RLFs use local groups or organisations where appropriate. RLFs can use the grant funding to engage a third party to deliver or participate in a communication activity. RLFs should link with and use local experts or organisations within their region—such as farming/industry groups, research and development organisations, universities and state/territory and local governments—and from their NRM networks—such as Caring for our Country Facilitators, including Indigenous Land Management, Environment and Sustainable Farm Practices officers.
If not all of the Host Organisations accept the offer of a grant and residual funds are available, further funding may be offered by DAFF to eligible Host Organisations, in addition to the original grant amount. Any decision to grant additional funding to a Host Organisation will take into consideration whether demand is evident and/or whether activities may be leveraged off other Landcare or Caring for our Country activities or for collaborative activities across NRM regions. Host Organisations may approach DAFF at any time during the term of its funding deed with a proposal, outlining the planned activity, costs and justification as to why additional funding should be granted. The justification should include a cost benefit analysis capturing items such as number of participants and linkages with other activities and/or cooperation with other regions. DAFF will assess these on a case by case basis to evaluate the degree to which the proposal meets the objectives of the program, these guidelines, the funding deed and in the context of the available program budget.
RLFs must notify DAFF of their upcoming public events by email to assist with promulgation of CFI information and cooperation across regions and to maximise the opportunities for farmers and land managers to learn about the CFI. DAFF may circulate the information via relevant email newsletters and/or post on the DAFF website. DAFF will monitor these notifications to ensure the grant funding is on track to meet the objectives of the CFI Communications Program.
Host Organisations/RLFs must provide an activity report and statement of expenditure as outlined in the funding deed by 15 May each year under the deed. The report will summarise all the activities undertaken, report on the number of participants and include the RLF’s evaluation of the success of the activities. If applicable, the report will also include the completed participant evaluation forms. The final section of the report will outline the planned communications activities for the upcoming financial year. The submission of this report to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth is the milestone for the next payment under the deed.
To ensure the RLFs can competently deliver the objectives of the CFI Communications Program, DAFF has provided Carbon Farming Initiative training programs for RLFs and relevant Host Organisation staff. DAFF has also supplied a communication material toolkit for use by the RLFs. DAFF will re-visit the training needs and update the communication material as CFI offset methodologies are approved and the scheme comes into operation.
Offer made and funding deed signed and returned to DAFF
First payment made on execution of the funding deed and in accordance with the funding deed
Upon execution of the funding deed
Second payment in accordance with the funding
Original funded activities completed
Who is eligible
Only existing NRM region Host Organisations are eligible for funding.
Other organisations are not eligible for direct funding. However, Host Organisations/RLFs are strongly encouraged to work with or engage other organisations, including farming/industry bodies, research and development organisations, universities and local and state/territory governments, as third parties to deliver or participate in communication activities.
What qualifies for funding
Eligible communication activities that may be delivered under this program are those that raise awareness of how to participate in and benefit from the opportunities provided by the CFI and include the following activities targeted specifically at farmers, land managers and their key influencers:
- information sessions
- farm visits
- field days
- uploading to the web and/or printing CFI communication material approved by DAFF.
The planning and delivery of communication activities must be guided by the following underlying principles:
- maximising participation
- accessibility for potential participants
- regionally relevant
- needs of the region; for example, suitability of the frequency, timing and location of communication activities
- maximising cooperation and/or linking with other regions or activities.
Ineligible communication activities for this program include:
- the delivery and distribution of material about and discussions and debates on the merits of Australian Government climate change policy and/or the reality of climate change.
These lists of eligible and ineligible activities are not intended to be exhaustive and RLFs/Host Organisations can propose other activities not included in these lists to DAFF for approval (see below).
The following costs are also ineligible for funding through the CFI Communications Program:
- capital expenditure for the purchase of assets such as office furniture and equipment, motor vehicles, computers, printers, photocopiers, construction renovations and utilities
- costs involved in the purchase/upgrade of software including licences
- core business expenses such as
- staff relocation costs
- administration/overhead and infrastructure costs.
How to participate
This is a targeted, non competitive, grants process. Each NRM region Host Organisation will be invited to participate in the program.
Each Host Organisation will receive a letter of offer outlining the program and the amount of funding to be allocated. The letter of offer does not constitute a funding deed and Host Organisations/RLFs must not commence activities until a funding deed has been negotiated and executed.
Following receipt of the letter of offer and any negotiation, a funding deed will be settled between DAFF and the participating Host Organisations and signed by the respective parties.
Also, at any time during the term of the its funding deed, a Host Organisation may approach DAFF with a written proposal, outlining the planned activity, costs and justification as to why additional funding should be granted. DAFF will have the absolute discretion to grant additional funding. Additional funding for the financial years 2011 2012 to 2013 13 is dependent on other Host Organisations not accepting their offer of a grant and residual funds being available.
What are the conditions
To participate in the program, NRM region Host Organisations will be required to enter into a funding deed with the Australian Government. A template of the standard funding deed is available on the website.
The funding deed will include details of:
- expected commencement and completion date
- eligible and ineligible CFI Communications Program activities
- total funding to be granted by the Australian Government
- outcomes to be delivered and a milestone program for the achievement of the outcomes
- a payment schedule
- additional conditions for payments (where applicable).
RLFs must conduct at least three communication activities each financial year under the deed.
Communications activities undertaken must be on the eligible activities list.
If RLFs wish to conduct communication activities not included in the eligible list, pre-approval from DAFF is required. Approval must be sought at least 20 working days in advance and DAFF will respond within 5 working days.
If RLFs wish to engage a third-party speaker for any communications activities, pre approval from DAFF is required. Approval must be sought at least 20 working days in advance and DAFF will respond within 5 working days.
Communications activities must also represent value for money, that is, costs are reasonable and appropriate for the nature of the activities and the grant funding contributes directly to the achievement of the CFI Communications Program.
There is no provision for retrospectivity. Funding will not be provided for activities delivered prior to the execution of the funding deed.
RLFs must notify DAFF of upcoming public events 20 business days prior to the event by email.
Host Organisations/RLFs must provide an activity report and statement of expenditure as outlined in the funding deed by 15 May each year under the deed.
Under the funding deed, DAFF can reduce, withhold payment of future funding or recover funding as a debt to the Commonwealth if the Host Organisation has not expended the funding in accordance with the program objectives, these guidelines and the funding deed.
Publication of grant information
NRM region Host Organisations should be aware Commonwealth policy requires the department to publish information on its website about the grant, including but not limited to:
- Name of the person or entity receiving the grant
- Title and purpose
- Amount of funding received
- Term of the grant
- Funding location
By entering into a funding deed under this grant program, the NRM region Host Organisation consents to publication of the above information by DAFF if they are awarded funding under this grant program.
Complaints handling process
If an NRM region Host Organisation is dissatisfied with the way in which the grants have been handled by DAFF, the Host Organisation can lodge a complaint by contacting DAFF (telephone 1800 156 858, or by email).
The complaint may then be reviewed by one or more independent areas of DAFF. If no resolution is achieved, a complaint can be made to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will usually not investigate a complaint unless the matter has first been raised with DAFF and DAFF has been provided with a reasonable opportunity to respond. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can be contacted on phone (toll free) 1300 362 072 or email. Further information is available on their website.
For further information please contact the Manager of the Extension and Outreach Section, Climate Change Policy Branch, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on:
- 1800 156 858; or
- email the Carbon Farming initiative team
1 NRM regions are based on catchments or bioregions. The Australian Government, in association with state and territory governments, has identified 56 regions covering all of Australia.
2 The government provides funding to organisations to host RLFs in each of the 56 NRM regions. These organisations were selected through a competitive merit-based process.