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Farming community echoes climate change call to action

6 December 2006

THE National Farmers’ Federation’s (NFF’s) peak policy making body – Policy Council – has made a unanimous decision to join with the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change in calling for early action on climate change.

Policy Council, made up of the Presidents of 16 state farming organisations and commodity councils, affirmed the sector’s desire and need to be fully engaged in addressing climate change – including emissions trading, particularly through the Prime Minister’s Taskforce; making sure farmers have data to make long-term decisions; and research and new technologies that reduce emissions from agriculture.

“NFF believes that climate change may be the greatest threat confronting Australian farmers and their productive capacity… now and in the future,” NFF President David Crombie said. “Today’s announcement, and our keenness to engage, reflects this reality.

“It threatens Australia’s agricultural productive base – an important contributor to the national economy, the ability for Australian farmers to put food on the table of Australian families, and the long-term sustainability of at least 60% of Australia’s landmass.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics records that Australian farmers spent $3.3 billion on natural resource management over 2004-05, that 92% of farmers have environmental programs in place to manage and preserve their land, and that farmers plant over 20 million trees a year for conservation.

“Further, farmers are already part of the solution in that the Australian Greenhouse Office reports that primary industries have led the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by a massive 40%, over the past 15 years.

“Farmers are actively engaged in sustainably managing their environments. But we need to do more and need to ensure our responses are appropriate in light of the challenges ahead.”

Professor Will Steffen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the Australian National University and one of the world’s foremost authorities on climate change, presented NFF Policy Council with an up-to-the-minute overview of climate change forecasts, revealing that, in Australia, we can expect between 1°C - 6°C increase in temperatures, depending on global greenhouse gas emissions.

“The forecasts are concerning, but the important message is our future is not already written,” Mr Crombie noted. “We can change the forecasts… we have the ability to ensure better outcomes. The farming community is already engaged with the Bureau of Rural Science; the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and of the Environment and Heritage; and the Climate Institute.

“We need to continue those valuable relationships to understand more about how we position ourselves to continue to sustainably produce and compete in a changing climate. We also need to expand those horizons, and joining with the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change is another major step in the journey.”

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan, NFF Public Affairs, (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250 email:

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