THE government won't support the ag industry's 2050 carbon neutral target because it's unclear "who pays for it", the federal Agriculture Minister says.
The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) has united the broad church of agriculture behind the 2050 target, however the government has refused to endorse it.
Agriculture Minister Littleproud was asked about his confusing rhetoric, with the government investing in schemes to reward farmers for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, while talking disparagingly about the NFF's 2050 target, which he labelled an "aspiration to give a warm, fuzzy feeling at night", that would "achieve zero".
"What I'm saying to them is you've got to be honest with people, you've got to say how you'll pay for it ... otherwise, agriculture normally gets hit with it," Mr Littleproud said.
"The only way you're going to pay for it, is it comes out of someone's pocket, so as a government we've got to be honest with people."
Mr Littleproud said he "respects the NFF for their position", however later labelled it "a journey that is fictional".
"[The NFF] are not the ones have to have the conversation with the broader Australian public about who pays for it," he said.
Despite Mr Littleproud's comments, NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said his organisation was confident the Ag Minister respected its position.
Mr Mahar stressed the NFF was already working on the data and methodology of how to achieve the 2050 target.
"Our view is that businesses, industries and farmers set targets all the time - we have to set targets, then understand the challenges that underpin that target," Mr Mahar said.
"In terms of who pays for it, we want to get the data and methodology right, so agriculture can play its part. Of course we would never do anything that would disadvantage agriculture."
Mr Mahar said although the industry groups of the NFF had backed the 2050 target, he understood there were a wide range of views within the sector.
"We're comfortable with our position, we think it's a considered position with respectful caveats," Mr Mahar said.
"Our position allows us to provide government with a view, to have a seat at the table and be part of the conversation, and that is a good thing for agriculture."
Labor agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon said his political opponent was a "genius of pivoting to other issues", and pointed out that Labor, along with dozens of industries, resources companies and business councils all had a 2050 carbon neutral target.
"The real answer is Scott Morrison won't commit to net zero emissions because it wasn't his idea," Mr Fitzgibbon said.
"I'd love for Scott Morrison to say yes, let's join together, make net zero emissions the target and get there together.
"This war has been going on for more than 10 years. They got to perpetuate the war because they saw a political advantage, but Australian people won't thank them for it in the long run."