Farmer Survey Reveals Concern, Shifting Attitudes on Climate Change

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More than 1,300 primary producers, from a wide range of industries and states, responded to the survey which was organised by Farmers for Climate Action.

Of those who responded, 80 per cent wanted politicians to do more about climate change, including renewed and secure public investment in research, development and extension programs, to help farmers adapt to a more volatile climate.

The same number of farmers wanted their agriculture sector representatives to do more to advocate for stronger action.

Peter Holding, a mixed farmer from Harden on the NSW south-west slopes and long-time climate science advocate, said there was a clear message that farmers wanted strong political leadership on the issue.

“Economics you can work around, debts you can work around, finance and all the other issues that we’ve got [as farmers], but if we continue to ignore climate change and it continues to get worse, I think we’re in real big trouble,” he said.

Climate change concerns go beyond the label

Not all farmers are comfortable subscribing to the idea of climate change, the survey found.

According to the survey, about 60 per cent of farmers believed in climate change. But even more respondents said they were concerned about changing conditions they had observed on their properties, even though they were not prepared to call that “climate change”.

“Eighty per cent of farmers acknowledge that things are happening on their farm: whether or not they accept climate change, that doesn’t really worry them. Quite frankly it’s kind of irrelevant,” he said.

“They’re suffering more frequent droughts, less rainfall, more bushfires, increased weeds, and have made the statement that it’s been happening with more regularity.

“They don’t know why it’s happening, and they’re not prepared to accept climate change, but what we’re trying to point out to the politicians is that these things are happening.”

Mr Holding acknowledged there may have been an element of self-selection in farmers who chose to complete the survey, but noted that with 40 per cent of respondents saying they didn’t believe in climate change, the sample was far from unanimous.

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