Farmers for Climate Action say we are working from a low scorecard

The dire environmental scorecard reflects climate impacts experienced by farmers on the land that are members of Farmers for Climate Action

Farmers for Climate Action members agree with the findings of a report on the State of the Environment that paints a bleak outlook as to the environmental harm from climate change

The 2021 State of the Environment report released this week paints a dire picture of environmental harm, but that comes as no surprise to farmers, who see first-hand the damage done by climate change says Farmers for Climate Action.

CEO Dr Fiona Davis said climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, is hurting rural communities by making floods, fire and drought worse.

“There are multiple factors driving environmental damage, but climate change makes all of these worse,” Dr Davis said.

“Farmers and their communities rely on a healthy environment for their livelihoods, and to grow the food we eat. They deserve safety and security, but in this unbalanced climate caused by carbon emissions they are facing fires, floods and droughts.

Dr Fiona Davis CEO of FCA says farmers are leading the way on emissions reduction

“Farmers are leading the way on emissions reduction, and it’s time the coal, gas and transport sectors did their bit too,” Dr Davis added.

Farmers are planting shelterbelts that increase pasture and cattle growth, and installing renewable energy such as wind and solar that can help drought-proof farms and create jobs.

With support, this can be quickly scaled up across the agriculture sector.

report produced by EY for Farmers for Climate Action into opportunities in a low emissions future, found agriculture could reach net zero by 2040 whilst increasing production and without shrinking the beef herd or sheep flock. See the report link here.

“We can grasp the opportunity to create a regional jobs boom while we drive down emissions this decade,” Dr Davis concluded.

The State of the Environment report noted the state of the Murray Darling Basin: “Rivers and catchments are mostly in poor condition, and native fish populations have declined by more than 90% in the past 150 years: a trend that appears to be continuing today,” the report stated.

Farmers for Climate Action case studies:

Kristy Stewart, a fifth-generation sheep and agroforestry farmer near the Otway Ranges in Victoria, is integrating a web of trees into her family’s farming system for both conservation and profit. 

“We practice integrated farming principles where we ‘re looking at both the macro and micro ecological infrastructure of the property,” Kristy said.

“That looks like creating a web of trees integrated into the farming system that’s both for conservation and for profit. That also protects and enhances the farming system.

“This report shows the importance of caring for our land,” Kristy Stewart added.

“We are demonstrating on our farm techniques like caring for our soils through multi species pasture cropping systems, and biological infrastructure to protect the paddocks with biodiverse tree plantations and rotational grazing practices,” Kristy concluded.

Young NSW farmer and Worimi man, Josh Gilbert said the State of the Environment is a lived experience for farmers. “If you step outside the stats what it does is tell the story of what people on land are experiencing.

“What we’ve had on our farm is drought for several years then four successive floods in the last two or three years. It’s the constant state of the unknown – it takes a financial and emotional toll.

“What the report also does is show a clear need for the society and government now to listen to the voices of indigenous people. It is critical for the agricultural industry purely from a land and climate change sense.

“Once we get the referendum around the Uluru statement, what I’m hoping this report does is to set the principle that indigenous people’s issues aren’t just indigenous issues, that sectors of climate, government, agriculture all need to hear from indigenous people.”

Josh Gilbert said he hoped the report would also show that Australian society needs the government to listen to the voices of indigenous people on land management. “It is critical for the agricultural industry purely from a land and climate change sense,” Josh added.

Grazier Jody Brown who runs Latrobe station near Longreach said she was concerned by the figures about loss of organic matter in Australian soils.

“A critical part of surviving worsening droughts and climate change is adapting the soil. There are a lot of farmers who are really pushing the boundaries – now is the time for looking at how do we supercharge that,” Jody Brown said.

“One thing that did stand out is the loss of soil organic matter in Australia. That’s crucial for a lot of reasons – it affects our ability to withstand drought and obviously with climate change making droughts more severe, a critical point of surviving climate change is adapting the soil.”

“There’s a lot of research going into soils at the moment and there are a lot of farmers in Australia who are really pushing the boundaries – now is the time for looking at how do we supercharge that.”

“Sometimes there’s more do individually. There’s lot of power and positivity out there about making changes on farm – by improving the biodiversity of pasture, by managing that more carefully and incorporating rest more strategically, it can increase the ground cover which can help create more diverse habitat.

It’s win-win for the environment because it’s improving biodiversity above and below ground but we’re also building ecological resistance to extreme temperatures, ” Jody Brown concluded.