Climate change issues hot up

26 Jul, 2007 07:00 PM
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FARM lobby groups across the nation have increased their presence in the climate change debate as the federal election draws closer.

The Pastoralists and Graziers¹ Association (PGA) and WAFarmers remained relatively quiet on the climate change issue and carbon trading at the beginning of the year.

But with the growing season only looking brighter after this week¹s rain, the earlier prospects of another below-average season kicked the state lobby groups into action and coincided with a stepped-up campaign on climate change at federal level.

Carbon trading schemes, genetically modified crops, drought assistance, water licenses and paddock to table produce prices have all been drawn into the climate change debate.

Last week the PGA accused the State Government of making opportunistic policy decisions and affecting the ability of WA farmers to cope with climate and market change.

PGA economics director Slade Brockman said the government¹s moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crops was a serious case of urban agenda setting.

Mr Brockman said the policies indicated there was no concern for the devastating impacts on WA farmers.

He said food producers in WA were threatened more by government policy-making incompetence, than by long-term climate change.

³The moratorium on GM cropping technology has already been exposed as a furphy,² he said.

³But the green lobby continues to hold back Agriculture Minister Kim Chance when he should be embracing this technology as a means of increasing productivity and keeping WA agriculture competitive.

³Farmers can adapt to climate change, we have done it before.

³It is harder to adapt to the regulatory changes that arise on a yearly, if not monthly, basis.²

Mr Brockman also said the government¹s latest plan to ban the use of water-soluble fertili-sers in South West catchment areas by 2011 was another example of a city-centric government.

³The intelligent use of fertilisers not only poses little or no threat to the waterways, it is a key to enabling dairy farmers and other food producers to maintain productivity,² he said.

³This government is introducing new charges and denying water to food growers.

³It is prohibiting and regulating good farming practices with a frightening array of regulations ranging from how farmers manage their properties, to how they transport their livestock to market.

³Collectively, these policies are already driving farmers out of the South West.²

WAFarmers climate change spokesperson Dale Park said farmers had a massive role to play in carbon trading, offsets and sequestration and needed to be at the policy table now, not brought in at the last minute.

³The worrying factor about the current debate is that as both sides of politics develop their policies in the public arena, the focus is on political point scoring rather than realistic actions in dealing with the problems,² he said.

³Now is not a time for making policy on the run.

³The current focus on the stationary energy sector is understandable, but agriculture can¹t stay in the shadows any longer.

³We know the sector is unique in the challenges that it presents, but that is no reason not to address them.²

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