FARMING IN A CHANGING CLIMATE
Drought assistance and $100mil in grants for farmers to be more energy self-sufficient
The Greens believe that farmers need financial support and assistance to make their farms climate change ready and to grow new crops in changing conditions. Australian farmers are very innovative and progressive in their ability to adapt their properties and practices to meet climate variabilty. We need farmers to remain viable for our own food security as well as our economic well-being.
The Greens plan includes coordinating across departmental efforts to bring practical know-how together with scientific research to deliver real solutions for climate change adaptation; pushing for more funding for research and development; and ensuring regional communities are ready for extremes in weather.
Caring for our farmers also means helping them with the high energy costs of farming and food storage. Farmers are operating in a tough competitive environment many of them also against the rise of cheap imports. Helping energy intensive farms increase their energy self-sufficiency will lower costs, strengthen the food supply chain, lower our greenhouse gas emissions and build the clean green reputation of Australian agriculture. If we want to ensure Australia is always able to produce enough fresh food to feed itself, it makes sense to build resilience through our whole food supply system by encouraging increased energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy.
The Australian Greens $100 million grants for energy-intensive farms initiative will help equipment upgrades to cold stores, irrigation pumps to improve energy efficiency and the installation of renewable energy for high intensity activities such as irrigation systems, packaging and processing equipment, water heating and sterilisation.
We also know that farmers are already under pressure, and that is why immediate drought assistance is so critical.
Any drought assistance package needs to deal with climate variability, in order to better support the sector over the long term.
The Greens were instrumental in negotiating the WA Drought Trial package in 2009, which extended critical support to keep farmers on the land, but also ensured that essential services such as mental health, business planning were funded and that exit pathways were possible for those families that wanted that option.
It is important that any new round of assistance packages is easily accessed and that there are quick processes that deliver support in a timely fashion to those who need it. Such packages should also delivers strong mechanisms to support farmers and communities to address challenges such as climate change, which will only continue to intensify in coming years.
Federal drought assistance loans were an essential and welcome inclusion in 2013 budget, but the Government should not have made cuts to Caring for Our Country to pay for it. We can't take funding from one important area and direct it to another and cutting money from Caring for our Country reduces our NRM capacity across the board, including in the aspects of natural resource management that are essential to helping farming industries remain sustainable into the future. Effective natural resource management and strong drought assistance are complimentary approaches and as a result, both deserve new investments.
Authorised by Chris Dickinson & Adam Duncan, the Greens (WA), Ground Floor 445 Hay St Perth