Farmers for Climate action survey shows farmers concerned about impacts of climate change

At risk: Nine out of ten Australian farmers say they are concerned by unpredictable rainfall and increased weather events. Picture: Neil Richardson

At risk: Nine out of ten Australian farmers say they are concerned by unpredictable rainfall and increased weather events. Picture: Neil Richardson

The majority of farmers across Australia are counting the costs of climate change, according to survey results released by agricultural group Farmers for Climate Action (FCA).

Nine out of ten farmers surveyed said they are concerned by the impact of climate change on their farms.

Of the approximately 1300 farmers surveyed, 67 per cent reported a noticeable change in rainfall patterns in their time farming, and deep concern over unreliable rainfall.

83 per cent of farmers reported that cost was the biggest barrier in coping with climate change.

Nearly 90 per cent of farmers want their agricultural representatives and elected politicians to take stronger action against climate change.

Representatives from FCA presented the survey’s findings to the National Farmers Federation and federal MPs in Canberra this week.

AUSVEG spokesperson Shaun Lindhe said that supporting Tasmanian farmers in their efforts to adapt to climate change was key.

“In Tasmania this year we have seen potato growers struggling to harvest and plant potato crops due to unseasonable rainfall across the state,” Mr Lindhe said.

Mr Lindhe said vegetable growers showed “great resilience and adaptability” and that industry and government have a role in supporting growers “to ensure Australia has a sustainable food industry for future generations”.

With eight in ten farmers wanting to see a greater push for renewable energy, Mr Lindhe said that the vegetable industry’s investment in research on renewable energy would “undoubtedly continue to be a priority for the industry moving forward”.

Midlands merino sheep farmer Rae Young completed the survey: she and her husband Lindsay are currently running 3500 sheep out of an ideal 8000 on their thousand-hectare Midlands farm Lewisham.

“We think the rainfall patterns have changed a lot and it’s extremely challenging,” Mrs Young said.

“To try and manage a lot of animals when you don’t have rain for five months or six months, it has become an enormous challenge.”

The Youngs are adapting by a combination of destocking, changing the time they lamb, increasing their use of irrigation, trying a 40,000 bulb garlic crop and seeking out different land uses.

Mrs Young said she believes the key in tackling climate change lies not just with farmers adjusting to changed weather patterns, or increasing government support, but a whole-society acceptance of responsibility.

“We all need to start behaving differently,” she said.

“None of us wants to actually change our lifestyle.”

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