Farmers urge government to embrace solar for the future

A year ago, my family acquired solar panels in a very unusual way. Our farm is located in Quirindi, northern NSW, in the heart of Australia’s food bowl.

We’ve never before experienced a run of 40-degree days like we had last summer. Being farmers we are at the mercy of the seasons, and in recent years we have experienced extremes in our weather – extended hot summer periods and increasingly variable rainfall.

It’s hard on our cows, it dries out the soil, stresses pastures and impacts the number of animals we can stock on the farm.

A few years back a concerned group of Christians called Common Grace crowdfunded enough money to buy solar panels for the then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

It was an attempt to raise awareness of the value and importance of sustainable energy.

But when this gift was rejected, Common Grace turned to the front lines of climate change in Australia and offered the panels to farmers, like me.

My parents taught me the value of caring for the land, and so, I appreciate the clean energy from solar which allows me to use appliances during the day knowing I am having minimal impact on the environment.

My family spends less on electricity now and with the price of solar storage falling, we’ve got plans to go completely off the grid.

It’s frustrating that our government is failing to transition Australia to sustainable energy when we are out in the paddock already trying to adapt to the impacts of worsening droughts and heatwaves.

We must tackle climate change so we can pass on healthy farmlands to our children, and so farmers can continue to produce food and clothes for generations to come.

Being given the opportunity to go solar has been great. I just wish our government will now give it a go.

Kirrily Blomfield was 2014 NSW farmer of the year.

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