An Open Letter from Farmers
Aussie farmers are on the front line of rising temperatures and more extreme weather, so global warming is a priority issue for rural, regional and remote Australia.
Hot days have doubled in the last fifty years and heatwaves are longer, hotter and more intense. Climate change is already worsening drought conditions in south-west and south-east Australia and droughts are likely to worsen in many parts of the country without deep and rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The first five months of 2015 have been the hottest ever recorded.
A strong target to cut carbon pollution, a transition plan away from coal and gas towards renewable energy, and a strong deal at the UN climate talks in Paris this December are all in the interests of Aussie farmers and our families.
We as Aussie farmers call on the Liberal Party conference to reject the motion put by the regional and rural committee of the Liberal Party questioning the basis of climate science, and instead call for post-2020 targets to cut carbon pollution that are in line with scientists’ recommendations of at least 40% by 2025, and at least 60% by 2030 over 2000 pollution levels.
We are a group of farmers from around Australia concerned about the impacts of rising temperatures and more extreme weather on our land and livelihoods.
As farmers, we listen to science and respect voices like the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology. So should our political leaders.
We came together because farmers need a voice to counteract the motion put forward by the Rural and Regional committee of the Liberal party for their national conference for a House of Representatives Inquiry questioning the basis of climate science.
In the next fortnight the Liberal Party will decide on Australia’s next target to cut carbon pollution, and we believe it should be in line with what science tells us is necessary to stay below a 2 degrees temperature rise (see for example here).
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why We Care
“Every Australian farmer feeds 600 people - 150 in Australia and 450 overseas. By tackling climate change and its implications for food security, we can hopefully face the challenge of feeding the world. Politicians who refuse to accept that we need strong cuts to carbon pollution aren’t representing the needs of their rural and regional constituencies or helping prepare young farmers for the future.”
Josh Gilbert, Chair, NSW Young Farmers
Image © Josh Gilbert
“Dairy farmers are the canaries of climate change. The impact of extreme weather is very easy to see in the wellbeing of our cows and how much milk they make. Drier seasons have even shifted the time of year calves are born. My fellow dairy farmers around here are no longer debating whether climate change is real or what caused it. We are getting on with adapting to it, protecting our cows and farms as best we can. Don’t imagine for a moment that political statements questioning climate change represent all farmers.”
Marian Macdonald, Dairy farmer, Gippsland VIC
Image © Marian MacDonald, 2015
“As farmers, of course we’re worried about climate change. This is about our children’s and grandchildren’s future. In the time my family’s been here we’ve always had a cycle of horrendous droughts, however the consistency of the weather has now disappeared. We have the obligation to do things the best we can and for the Australian Government to take a strong target to the UN climate talks in Paris at the end of the year. It’s very frustrating to see politicians questioning whether climate change exists when we can see the evidence of it on our farms.”
Derek & Kirrily Blomfield, NSW Farmers of the Year, Liverpool Plains NSW
Image © Sally Alden Photography, 2015
“Farmers are absolutely on the coalface of climate change. Extreme weather events are getting more frequent and they’re getting more severe. Hot days are getting hotter. In January 2013 we had a maximum over 49 degrees, hitting my Chenin Blanc and Viognier grapes hard. Twenty-five percent of the fruit just cooked on that day. Even sun hardy varieties didn’t escape. I have never seen sunburn on Verdelho before. All up about $25,000 in fruit was destroyed in just one day. Now we’re looking at netting the entire place with shade cloth that we can adjust and put misters inside to cool the fruit. Should we address global warming? We have no bloody future if we don’t.”
David Bruer, Wine grower, Langhorne Creek SA
Image © Jim Filmer, 2015
“There are many sensible conservative politicians around the world and in Australia who do accept the need to tackle climate change and move away from coal and gas, so it’s a shame to see this motion from a small section of the Liberals that don’t really represent rural communities. Many rural people people are finding it’s no longer possible to support politicians who don’t see climate change as one of our major issues; they’re out of touch with the reality of farmers. I’ve explained climate science to many people, and once they understand the evidence it’s easy for them to see why we need to act”.
Sid Plant, Cattle farmer, Acton Qld
Image © Tanya Plant
“I’m third generation on this farm and I’ve farmed here for thirty years. As a Western Australian farmer I’m disappointed with the motion moved by my fellow West Australian producer Brian Mayfield to the Liberal Party conference. WA farmers are on the front line of climate change. On our farm we’ve experienced reduced winter growing season rainfall. We only have the one growing season here, in the winter, and that can be very short now. We urge the Liberal Party and all politicians to cut carbon pollution for the interests of Western Australian farmers like us.”
Andrew Pauley, Wheat and barley producer, Pingelly WA
Image © Holly Bassett, 2015
“Farmers are part of the planet and we are committed to doing what we believe is right. Acknowledging climate change is real is the right thing to do. Farmers are on the front line of climate change and it is one of the top pressures facing us. If we let it continue, people’s access to affordable food will decline. Our cows supply 50,000 Australians every day with milk for their breakfast. Our cows are part of the family, so we do everything we can to give them the best life possible. This has become more challenging over the past 30 years with increasing extreme weather events. Each drought is hotter and drier than the last. It is not usual to get high rainfall events with ten inches of rain falling in ten hours. Highly variable weather is debilitating for cows and farmers. It effects milk supply and without climate change mitigation strategies this can be as high as a 20% reduction. Climate change is real. Our government must show leadership or Australian families access to reliable supplies of safe affordable and nutritious food will under increasing threat”
Lynne Strong, Inaugural Bob Hawke Landcare Award winner, Jamberoo NSW
Image © Lynda Faiers Photography, 2015
“There’s definitely been a trend towards increased temperatures. In the last year we’ve seen higher temperatures than have ever been recorded on our property. In January 2014 we hit 45C, which we’ve never seen before. Last November was the hottest on record. We have to offer the cows comfort and lower their core body temperature with sprinklers in the dairy. We have shade structures to protect them from the sun. We’re adapting, but we need our politicians to get some better policy and support the transition to clean, renewable energy.”
Greg Dennis, Dairy Farmer of the Year, Beaudesert QLD
Image © Sebastian Chan, 2015
"As a farmer, I'm very aware of the climate change impacts that we're already experiencing and that our kids will experience if we don't act. This year we're also facing an El Nino, which adds to the extreme weather we're already facing. It's so important that our politicians all take a strong target to the UN climate talks in Paris, for the sake of our future food security."
Andrea & Mark Hannemann, Wheat, barley, canola and lamb producers, Central Eyre Peninsula, SA
Image © Graeme Murray
“I’m the third generation on this farm and my son James will be the fourth. We’ve always lived here; it’s all family-run. The Harden region was previously regarded as a high-rainfall area. We used to get an average 50mm of rain a month and that made it relatively simple to farm. Now, we’re getting dry autumns and you can’t get the crops without careful moisture conservation. Change is definitely happening and it’s happening now. The time available to grow a crop is getting shorter. As that happens, you get less and less yield. It’s getting worse, at a rate I wouldn’t have thought possible. If you like what you’re eating, wake up and have a look around. You might not be eating it for very much longer.”
Peter Holding, mixed cropping farmer, Harden NSW
Image © Econnect Communication, 2015
“Farmers are responsible for looking after the land we use to produce the healthy food that all Australians eat. We’re doing everything possible from our end to care for the environment, to produce food to feed Australians and the world. Taking a back-seat approach to climate change only disrupts our food security and threatens our yields. There’s no doubt climate change is a reality now and we’re seeing the impacts on the ground.”
Deana Said, Fresh Select, Lettuce & brassica farmer, Weribee VIC
Image © Lisa Saad, 2015