Climate farmers call for $1.8b action plan

Farmers for Climate Action call for $1.8b action plan

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CLIMATE CASH: Crookwell sheep farmer and Farmers for Climate Action deputy chair Charlie Prell says Australia can address climate change while boosting farming fortunes.

CLIMATE CASH: Crookwell sheep farmer and Farmers for Climate Action deputy chair Charlie Prell says Australia can address climate change while boosting farming fortunes.

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A new Farmers for Climate Action report says a $1.8b investment by the federal Government could create tens of thousands of dollars while solving climate change problems.

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A $100 billion industry and tens of thousands of jobs benefiting the country's hardest hit regional communities are the centrepiece of a new Farmers for Climate Action report.

Crookwell, NSW, sheep farmer and FCA deputy chair Charlie Prell said the federal government had a 'once-in-a-generation opportunity' while rebuilding the economy.

"We need robust action from the federal government outlined in this $1.8 billion package, which is a small fraction of the predicted $4.2 trillion loss in cumulative damages to agriculture and labour productivity brought about by climate change by 2100," he said.

Asked how he rated the chances of a large commitment while government budgets strained under COVID-19, Mr Prell said it was an investment, not a cost.

"I can't see why anyone, governments or regional organisations, wouldn't support it - it's focused on the regions where investment in agriculture is desperately needed," he said.

"Agriculture is integral to Australian food security, our way of life and to our sense of prosperity and for farmers, climate change is an urgent problem. We can address multiple problems with this integrated plan."

The FCA Regional Horizons report outlines four investment priorities.

They include delivery of the National Climate Change and Agriculture Work Plan, which is already under development; a Land and Environment Investment Fund; a Regional Resilience Hub Network and a Regional Energy Transition Program.

Of the Work Plan, the FCA report says: "Done well, the plan could play an important role coordinating efforts to promote climate-smart agriculture and build regional resilience to drought, fire and other mounting risks."

Based on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), the proposed investment fund would support innovation, attract large-scale investment, reward ecosystem services, and promote climate solutions for farmers, the FCA report says.

"A thriving landscape carbon industry alone would generate up to $10.4 billion in revenue and create up to 15,750 jobs by 2030."

That would be matched by a Regional Energy Transition Program to promote and support community-based, clean energy developments, and modernise and decentralise power grids.

FCA says the Regional Resilience Hub Network would improve learning networks, encourage innovation, and offer regional communities choice in a changing climate.

Mr Prell said FCA was "seeking support across the board" for its report.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president Emma Germano said it looked forward to meeting with FCA to gain a "deeper understanding of the economic argument that sits behind the recommendations".

"We are committed to the aspirational goal of carbon neutrality, however, it is imperative that we ensure this goal does not come with the imposition of an additional financial burden on farmers," she said.

Ms Germano said she was proud of what the VFF and farmers had already achieved.

"We have a tremendous opportunity right now to put everything on the table: economic and taxation reform, sustainability and environmental goals, innovative strategies that can secure the competitive advantage of our sector into the future," she said.

"We have worked closely with the NFF and the Federal Government on a range of sustainability policies including the practical guide produced with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation 'Transforming Australian Agriculture with Clean Energy'."

More at: https://farmersforclimateaction.org.au/portfolio/regional-horizons/

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