NSW Farmers call on government to act on climate change

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NSW Farmers have shifted their policy to recognise the impact of climate change on agriculture and urged politicians to act.

In the past, a section of the NSW Farmer’s Policy dictated that the organisation should not embark on climate change action with fears that foreign investment would be driven away with no visible financial gain.

The Policy now acknowledges that primary producers are on the front lines of seasonal variability exacerbated by a changing climate, urging its members playing an active role in the issue.

Mullaley farmer Angela Martin, a former NSW Farmers board member, said the change sends a clear signal to governments that climate change is an issue farmers deal with every day.

“Primary producers are on the front lines of seasonal variability, rising temperatures and more extreme weather, exacerbated by a changing climate,” she said on the final day of the group’s conference in Sydney.

In March this year, delegations of farmers called on the Abbott government to maintain the renewable energy target and reduce carbon emissions.

The 2015 NSW budget showed spreading drought and preparations for future climate change was expected to cost the government close to $100 million in the new financial year.

Drought assistance alone will cost $63 million in the 2015-16 year, up from an estimated $45 million in the current year.

Longer terms concerns related to climate change will attract $26 million spending in the coming year, up from $19.2 million this year, to help local councils develop and implement management plans to “restore and protect the state’s coastline and estuaries”.

NSW Farmers Public Affairs Director Veneta Chapple says discussions around implementing renewable energy strategies will be tabled in future NSW agriculture meetings.

“They decided that they wanted to move our policy forward and make it more reflective of the current mood of farmers and the fact that farmers are at the front line when it comes to managing seasonal variability.”

According to the updated policy, transitions towards renewable energy sources in rural, remote and regional areas should take place where an operation can benefit surrounding farming communities.

Ms Chapple says the association has encouraged an energy team to “reduce their energy costs”.

“We’ve gone out into the regions and talked to farmers trying to help them convert to solar where there is a net benefit for them.”

With the upcoming Climate Treaty discussions taking place in Paris at the end of the year, Ms Chapple says there are a lot of opportunities for the Abbott Government to utilize renewable energies that could assist communities experiencing drought.

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