The Federal Government’s latest drought package must be matched with meaningful action to address climate change if rural Australia is to thrive into the future, said Farmers for Climate Action today.
The new measures introduced by the Government include concessional, interest-free loans for farmers and small businesses, funding for drought-affected councils and improved water accessibility via funding from the Future Drought Fund.
Farmers for Climate Action deputy chair and Crookwell farmer Charlie Prell said: “As farmers we’re grappling with the short term drought impacts, but we’ve also got our eye on the long-term prospects of our farms, regional businesses and rural Australia.
“We’re doing what we can on-farm to cope with drought and to adapt to climate change. While we welcome the increased recognition of the importance of drought recovery and future planning evident in this package, it’s not enough.
“Yesterday 11,000 scientists highlighted the urgency of acting on climate change. We’re already seeing the effects play out across Australia, with Australia’s natural drought cycle becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to manage.
“The bitter truth is, without decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, droughts like the one we’re experiencing are likely to become more intense—and harder and more expensive to respond to.
“This funding provides some relief. But if policymakers don’t also commit to moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy, and accelerate a national climate change and agriculture work program, their response is incomplete and insincere,” Mr Prell said.
Harden farmer Peter Holding said: “This Federal Government continues to apply Band-aids to broken legs, throwing money at the problem without addressing the factors making it worse.
“Concessional loans are a useful mechanism but we need to make sure that money is being targeted and used where it’s needed. Farmers don’t just need cash for feed and water – if we’re to be here in the long-term we need support to adapt to, and mitigate the risks of climate change.
“We also need support to ensure that we are capturing the opportunities of a low carbon society, including rewards for carbon sequestration on-farm,” said Mr Holding.
Farmers for Climate Action is a movement of farmers, agricultural leaders and regional Australians working to ensure that farmers, who are on the frontlines of climate change, are a key part of its solution.