The National Farmers Federation calls for zero carbon emissions by 2050

Photo by by Nick Cubbin: The Corrigan family at their Rennylea property in the Murray Valley are among those changing their farming practices

Contributed by Adam Carlton

Among the growing number of Australians calling for more to be done to lower carbon emissions in Australia are farmers. The National Farmers Federation (NFF), claiming to represent 80,000 farmers has now joined the call.

A new policy which was voted on earlier this month, calls for a much significantly higher target than is now the case. NFF President Fiona Simson Says, “We want to make sure we chart the path, get the target, we can now do the work behind that target, that’s what it’s all about.”

Fiona Simson the President of the National Farmers Federation

This shift has been brought about because farmers are on the frontline of the impact of climate change. They have witnessed their land becoming less productive with the increasing lack of rain, mingled with the occasional flooding downpours. Last year’s bushfires brought the lesson home.

The changing weather patterns cannot be denied, and this has seen a rising trend in farmers changing the way in which they manage the land. In many ways, they are at the forefront of practical actions to make a difference.

But they cannot do it alone. Individual action is limited. A national response is needed. This has led to a groundswell of opinion from the bottom up, which has resulted in the new NFF policy, setting a zero net emissions target for Australia by 2050.

Some would argue that this is not enough. But for the NFF this is a monumental shift, which could even strengthen in the near future. Australia’s red meat sector, considered to be a major contributor to emissions, has already committed to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The Morrison government’s response is that it doesn’t want to know about the NFF policy. It won’t commit to any change. Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has rejected the policy outright.

“I don’t support the NFF’s commitment to such a goal, particularly when they have not identified any quantifiable pathway to achieve it practically,” he said.

The farmers’ organisation can hardly be blamed for not having a national plan. Most would suggest this is the role of government. A comprehensive government national plan does not exist. Agriculture would be an important component of one.

But changes in the methods of farming are limited without a whole of economy approach. An end to fossil fuel dependence and transition to sustainability in all industries can only come about, through conscious will and action.

Conscious will and action are missing in Australia’s political leadership. This is one of the main reasons why it is losing credibility. The Australian population is moving in the opposite direction. This is why action on global warming has moved from the fringes to the mainstream.  

Both the Greens and Labor have significantly stronger policies on this issue. But it is only ongoing pressure from below that will finally force through the change we need.

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