By Anika Molesworth
There’s a dust storm blowing in. The horizon is becoming hazy. It’s an eerie dark rust colour – a colour most farmers are familiar with as the corroding tin sheet on the back shed. A sheet that is part of so many pieces, yet an integral fragment of the whole structural stability of the shed. When the rust eats away too much, the structural integrity is undermined.
The projections tell me that these dust storms that blanket my home in far western NSW are to become more frequent, and more fierce.
But there’s another storm brewing. A chorus of farmers and landmangers who are demanding greater action be taken on climate change. They are the people staring into the dusty winds, feeling the grit in their eyes and the sand in their clenched teeth.
As different parts of the country this week are gripped by drought, exhausted by heatwaves and washed clean by floodwaters – it is clear to myself, and many of us working in the farming sector, that the time to choose our common future, is now.
Farmers for Climate Action is an alliance of farmers and leaders in agriculture who are working with its peers, the wider sector and decision-makers to make sure Australia takes the actions necessary to adapt to climate change and cut emissions where possible.
It is listening to the parts of the country where cattle outnumber people 2,000 to 1. It is listening to the people who have sun spots, sweaty brows and dirt under their fingernails. It is providing a voice to those who care about their farm’s old River Red Gums as though they were family members. It is giving the platform to farmers who have promised to look after the land and all the life that inhabits it.
Groups like Farmers for Climate Action give us all hope – it is a great example of how grassroots movements can change the world for the better.
Farmers for Climate Action is running workshops to build the capacity of farmers – so they are resilient in the face of climate change. It has formed working groups on RD&E and for policy progress. It is bringing scientists to woolsheds and farmers to Parliament House.
Stated on the Farmers for Climate Action website:
“As farmers, we are on the frontline of climate change in Australia. Rising temperatures, less rainfall and more extreme weather are already harming our land and risking our livelihoods.
Damage to our climate has forced us to adapt the way we farm, but science tells us worse is on the way if the world doesn't act. Aussie farmers are rightly proud of feeding and clothing millions of people around the world. Australia needs to address climate change so we can keep farming well into the future.
That’s why we are collectively calling for stronger action to reduce carbon pollution from all levels of government, and in our sector.
By working with people in many fields – from researchers to industry bodies to government – we will have the best information and support available to make well-informed business and land management decisions. This includes responding to the unavoidable changes already set in place, and making every effort to limit further damage to our climate.
Australian farmers can be part of the solution. Renewable energy, like solar and wind power, can help rural and regional Australia not just survive, but thrive. So, let’s grasp the opportunities!”
And it’s true - the solutions are out there!
Improved genetics in livestock are reducing methane emissions. Tree plantings are sequestering carbon. Improved irrigation efficiencies are keeping more water in the rivers and protecting fragile ecosystems. Biogas digesters are turning effluent into green power. Advances in weather forecasting are helping Aussie farmers plan ahead. Just to name a few!
If you haven’t already, I urge you to show your support by signing up to this most important organisation, and join the chorus of people demanding stronger climate action – www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au