In February this year I was approached by WWF to share a story for their new 2 Degrees Initiative
I said yes and you can read my story here
Perhaps not all farmers will be happy with me for a number of reasons. See footnote
WWF was recently described as an “EXTREME green lobby group attacking Queensland farmers” by the Queensland Country Life when WWF launched this video.
But lets not forget at a basic level, farmers and WWF want the same thing – a sustainable environment that we leave in better shape than we found it.
We have to acknowledge that we’re all this this together, we share the same planet. We all want to support our population while leaving the smallest possible footprint.
Farmers are stewards of over 60% of Australia’s land mass. We take our role in managing that resource for future generations very seriously. We all prioritise the well-being of our environment and animals in our day-to-day operations. Most farmers would have in place practices that respond to variations in climate, none of this is new. But often, the only people who know about it are our neighbours – usually other farmers.
As a Climate Champion I have seen many amazing farmers doing incredible things for the environment. We need to celebrate this loudly.
It’s important for farmers to share our practices with audiences that may have some queries about the way we operate. I am committed to seeking out these people to engage in meaningful ways to create understanding and partnerships. These people will not come to us. In many instances, they wouldn’t know where to look! So by sharing my story with WWF, I am able to engage with an audience I may not normally encounter. I am hopeful this will encourage a discussion around how farmers can work with everyone to build a future in which people and nature thrive.
For too long agriculture has promoted ourselves to agriculture. We need to expand our reach to engage all participants along our supply chains, to create awareness and understanding that will underpin sustainable production into the future. We cannot afford to turn out backs on those who may be uncomfortable with agriculture. They are too important to our future to ignore.
Some interesting research on farmer attitudes to climate change found here
Overcoming the climate change sceptics
Many primary producers are resistant to the challenges of climate change. In a study of Australia’s Farming Future the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, surveyed 1,000 farmers in relation to their attitudes towards climate change. They also surveyed 1,000 people from urban areas.
While 58% of the urban population believed climate change was real and caused by human activity, only 26% of primary producers held this view. As illustrated in the following diagram these farmer groups were segmented into different types of sceptic. Some were sceptical but had been hit by drought and therefore were prepared to start taking action. Others were sceptical and had not yet felt any environmental impacts so they felt no need to take action.
Primary producer segments in relation to climate change Donelley, Mercer, Dickson and Wu (2009)
The ‘strugglers’ were not only sceptical but had no resources to apply to any remedial action. Even those who accepted climate change science were of the view that government assistance was required to allow them to take action.
These attitudes amongst rural producers are important as they will determine how readily many farmers adopt more sustainable farming practices, reduce new land clearing and introduce programs such as enhanced biodiversity of cropping, interlocking crop cycles, dense polycultures, biochar and carbon management.