Climate change key concern for farmers

Climate change is the biggest threat to farmers according to more than 700 Australians working in the agriculture sector.

The online survey carried out by Farmers for Climate Action interviewed producers on the Australian government's Net Zero Sector Plan for Agriculture and Land.

When asked about the single greatest threat to farming, more than half said climate change, 15 per cent said red tape, while only one per cent said transmission lines on farmland.

"From the survey, it is very clear that farmers are telling us that climate change is hurting them right now, and that ag is leading the way in reducing pollution," Brett Hall from Farmers for Climate Action said. 

"We've had a lot of people already taking mitigation action against climate change, and there's a majority looking to do more in the future over the next five years." 

Farmers highlighted three barriers to reducing emissions, a lack of clear government policies, high upfront costs and difficulties measuring and validating emissions changes on farm.

Seven out of 10 farmers interviewed had already invested in emissions reduction efforts, by installing solar panels and batteries, electrifying farm equipment or planting trees.

Almost nine in 10 farmers had experienced “very unusual” or “somewhat unusual” climate change related events including rainfall events in the past three years

"In those three years, we've had La Nina years with more rain and lower daytime temperatures but 39 per cent of farmers experienced drought, and another 80 per cent experienced bushfires," Mr Hall said.

Agriculture accounts for almost 18 per cent of Australia’s national greenhouse gases up by almost four per cent over the year due to increasing stock numbers and crop production.  

In 2022 Australia wrote into law its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets which included reaching net zero by 2050 as well as reducing emissions levels by 43 per cent of 2005 levels.  

When asked the best way to reduce emissions and build carbon stores on farms,  65 per cent said promoting biodiversity with just over half opting for the switch to renewable energy sources like solar.

Submissions close on Wednesday on the federal government's discussion paper for its Agriculture and Land Plan – one of six sectoral decarbonisation plans under the Net Zero 2050 Plan.

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