By Richard McLellan
Facing-up to the challenges confronting the agricultural sector as a result of climate change is a daunting prospect for individuals, especially for farmers doing their best to run a sustainable agricultural enterprise in the northern WA Wheatbelt. Dry starts to the year, like the one that many farmers around the country are experiencing again this season, make those challenges even more problematic.
So it was good to meet with a bunch of farmers from all over Australia last week at the Farmers for Climate Action board strategic planning meeting on a beef cattle property not far from Canberra in the ACT. The FCA board has a talented mix of highly-skilled directors, led by Angus beef cattle farmer Lucinda Corrigan, and with farmers from Longreach to Goomalling amongst others on the board.
There was a lot of passion for Climate Action during the planning sessions, but also a lot of optimism and belief in farmers making a difference and working together to adapt to our changing climate. There was also a lot of commitment to core principles – such as being science-based and collaborative, and with working with all individuals, organisations and agencies that are keen to make a positive contribution, to be part of the solution.
That is good news for NRM groups like NACC, as NRM groups all around the country are going to need all the help that they can get in addressing the impacts of climate change in their regions under the second phase of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program (NLP). One of the NLP’s five Outcomes of the Regional Land Partnerships is that “by 2023, agriculture systems have a capacity to adapt to significant changes in climate, weather and markets”. More specifically, the aim is to “increase land and marine managers’ awareness and understanding of changes in climate, weather and markets so that they can adopt effective response strategies that maintain farm productivity and natural resource conditions.”
Fortunately there is a lot of information, and support, available through agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Climate Change program, the Agriculture and Food section of the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), and the CSIRO.
It’s great to know that regional NRM groups will be able to draw upon this sort of information to help their local farmers adapt to climate change, but also to be able to talk to farmer members of Farmers for Climate Action who are already working to address change. FCA is a member of the National Farmers Federation, and is forging closer ties with NRM Regions Australia. I’m confident that farmers working together, and working with groups like FCA, the government agencies mentioned above, and regional NRM organisations, is a formula for success.
It’s that kind of collaboration and commitment that makes me optimistic that farmers in our region will be able to meet all of the climatic challenges being thrown at them, and continue “farming forever” in the Northern Agricultural Region.