A Murray Valley cattle farmer is calling for political leadership to help the industry tackle the "greatest challenge" they have ever faced.
Bowna farmer and Farmers for Climate Action chair Lucinda Corrigan said now, more than ever, there needs to be leadership to enact climate change policy after Australian farmers continued to produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
"But our future on the land is far from certain, and that means the federal government must include in its economic stimulus a sensible, evidence-based program to help us tackle the greatest challenge we have ever faced - climate change," she said.
"Our family has worked this land since 1870 and, while we've seen good seasons and bad, the detailed records we have kept for more than a century paint a reliable picture of climate change in action.
"The long-term trend we see is for declining in-season rainfall and a steady change in growing patterns.
"We are instigating sustainable intensification across our business to cope with the drying climate.
"After the millennial drought that ended in 2010, we installed a containing area for 1000 calves for when there's no autumn ground cover and put in two pivots for growing summer feed.
"In this facility we feed a ration harvested during spring and also bought in feed from neighbours, including very little grain.
"We have also seen a change in the types of weeds that invade our property, with spreading south and west such as fleabane and other cropping weeds."
Mrs Corrigan said despite farmers being "great innovators" the speed of climatic changes are posing "such serious challenges".
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"It often feels as though things just get harder and harder," she said.
"That is why when the federal government considers how to re-energise Australia's economy post-COVID 19, it is vital farmers and regional communities are not forgotten.
"A number of on-farm solutions do exist.
"But we need to give farmers access to independent, evidence-based advice on how to cut their emissions and raise the performance of their farms.
"Rural Australians are far too often stereotyped as being ignorant or dismissive of the realities of our changing climate, but I have found there is actually great interest and curiosity in our communities about how we can reduce our own carbon emissions and become more resilient in the face of this existential threat."
Scientists are working with farmers to explore innovative genetic approaches, food additives and new ways of managing land to help achieve a more climate resilient future.
"What is needed is an injection of research and development funding so they can be brought to market quickly," Mrs Corrigan said.
"By initiating its National Climate Change and Agriculture Work Program, the federal government has already recognised the need for a unified approach to help Australian farmers tackle climate change.
"Now is the time to finalise and fund the plan.
"Shoring up a future for Australia's farmers and its food supply surely constitutes stimulus dollars well spent."
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