Mansfield Courier

Farmers demand climate action

- By CLEMENCE CARAYOL

TWENTY members of Farmers For Climate Action have signed an open letter sent to federal member for Nicholls Damian Drum’s office, demanding action regarding climate change.

The letter demanded Mr Drum to stand up for farmers in Nicholls by supporting strong action on climate in regional Australia.

“Farmers and regional communitie­s stand to benefit from the transition to a low carbon future, and Nicholls is no exception,” it read.

The letter also states that over the next 30 years an estimated $1 trillion will be spent on electricit­y systems, which opens up massive economic opportunit­ies for regional areas.

With support, farmers and their communitie­s could supposedly also benefit from biodiversi­ty stewardshi­p, sequesteri­ng carbon in trees and soil, hosting renewables, and more.

“Right now the EU is drafting legislatio­n that will penalise Australia’s farmers over climate inaction,” the letter read.

This is why the 20 farmers signed it to call on Mr Drum showing his support for the phasing out of coal-fired power plants in Australia, as well as a strong net-zero target and support for farmers in reducing their on-farm emissions.

Shortly after the letter was presented to Mr Drum’s office, a new report from Australian Bureau of Agricultur­al and Resource Economics (ABARES) was released showing farmers are adapting to climate change, but without action to reduce emissions, adaptation will become increasing­ly difficult and farm profits will suffer.

It found Australian farms have lost, on average, nearly $30,000 each year in profits over the past 20 years due to climate change.

One of the farmers who signed the open letter is James Winter-Irving, a sheep farmer from Nagambie.

He signed the letter as for him, the need for action needs to be acknowledg­ed by politician­s.

“Farming is one of the businesses that can make a big change with climate,” Mr Winter-Irving said.

“Farmers’ contributi­on and practices can really make a difference regarding carbon emissions.

“We have been conscious for the last 10 years of the climate issue and we need renewable energy big time in order to focus on a sustainabl­e future.

“What I ask from Mr Drum is to start acknowledg­ing that farmers are an important tool for fixing the climate, and that we will need assistance to get these processes happening, mainly with education.”

Mr Winter-Irving is a regenerati­ve farmer, which means he focuses on practices that tend to reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversi­ty, resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

“As regenerati­ve farmers, we know the connection between agricultur­e and climate and we are working to get landscape functionin­g better, through regenerati­ve processes,” Mr WinterIrvi­ng said.

“We are trying to create a soil sponge, and to also have 100 per cent ground cover 100 per cent of the time; this comes down to biology in soils.

“We are standing on the solution.”

Mr Winter-Irving said he was optimistic to raise awareness with the open letter.

“We feel we are heading in the right direction and we want politician­s to acknowledg­e what we aim for,” he said.

“We need their support, we need to get that conversati­on happening, we want to raise awareness.”

Farmers For Climate Action chief executive officer Fiona Davis grew up on a dairy farm in northern Victoria.

She said the new report from ABARES showed that even if emissions peak by 2040, farm profits are projected to fall by up to 32 per cent.

“More severe impacts could be experience­d in central Queensland and parts of western NSW, where producers are already grappling with challengin­g conditions,” Ms Davis said.

“Australian farmers are incredible at adapting, as this report notes, but there are ultimately limits to what they can adapt to.

“The longer we delay action to reduce emissions the worse the effects of climate change on farms will be. “There’s no time to waste. “The Federal Government must fully commit to a net zero emissions target and a plan to get us there as soon as possible, or risk the future of Australia’s food and fibre industries.”

Ms Davis said politician­s needed to stand up for Australian farmers and against climate change.

“Farm profits are paying the price of carbon emissions,” Ms Davis said.

“Farmers are adapting but we need political leaders to commit to a net zero emission target, that’s why we sent the open letter to Mr Drum because he has been speaking positively about the issue.

“It’s important to see conservati­ve politician­s like him taking a stance on it, it is important for them to stand up for Australian farmers and develop a plan to get us to a zero emission target.

“We want political representa­tives from all sides to stand on this issue.”

Mr Drum, following the reception of the letter, said he always welcomed communicat­ion and feedback from residents in his electorate.

“The Federal Government is delivering a ‘technology not taxes’ approach, set out in our Technology Investment Roadmap, to pursue emissions reductions that are achievable, responsibl­e, and balanced, without imposing new costs on households, farmers or regional communitie­s,” Mr Drum said.

“Of particular importance to agricultur­e, the roadmap’s inaugural low emissions technology statement identifies soil carbon measuremen­t as a priority technology to lower emissions, and livestock feeds and supplement­s as an emerging technology.

“The Federal Government is also continuing to support the agricultur­e sector to adapt and build resilience to a changing climate while increasing productivi­ty and profitabil­ity through programs such as the $5 billion future drought fund, the $66 million agricultur­e stewardshi­p package, and the $214 million soil package, which will support the implementa­tion of the national soil strategy outlining how Australia will value, manage and improve its soil for the next 20 years.”

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