Farmers back move away from fossil fuel

17 Jul, 2015 01:40 PM
Primary producers are on the front lines of seasonal variability, exacerbated by a changing climate

THE peak NSW farm lobby group has shifted its climate change policy stance and has called on governments to back "the transition from fossil fuels".

The NSW Farmers Association ended its annual conference on Wednesday by voting to remove clauses in its official policy that had called for a royal commission "to explore the scientific veracity and soundness of claims that carbon is a pollutant" and to investigate "whether the activities of mankind are responsible for causing any change".

In their place, members voted to replace those calls with a recognition that primary producers "are on the front lines of seasonal variability, exacerbated by a changing climate".

It supports farmers "playing an active role" on the issue.

The rejected clauses - inserted between 2008 and 2011 - were "archaic" and the strong support for their replacement "shows farmers really are the forefront of climate change and really care", said Josh Gilbert, chairman of the Young Farmers Council, which put forward the amendments.

Mr Gilbert, whose parents farm cattle near Foster on the Mid North Coast, said farmers were already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate.

"We see pests and parasites coming down from Queensland becoming more prevalent," he said, adding increased flooding was another change associated with the warming conditions.

NSW Farmers approved a policy change that called on governments to back "the transition from fossil fuels such as coal and gas, towards more renewable energy sources in rural, regional and remote areas" provided there is a "net benefit to farming communities".

Farmers have stepped up their opposition to major coal mining or coal seam gas activities in NSW, particularly in wake of last week's decision by federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to approve the $1.7 billion Shenhua open-cut coal mine in the rich Liverpool Plains farming region of northern NSW.

Greens NSW MP and climate spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the NSW Farmers' move was "fantastic" and was more proof that the industry and his party were aligning on key issues.

"We work together to protect land and water and for policies that facilitate successful and sustainable agriculture and regional economic development.The expansion of coal and coal seam gas directly threatens farmers and makes no sense with the global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy that is picking up speed," he said.

Joel Fitzgibbon, Labor's shadow minister for agriculture, welcomed the resolution recognising the impact of climate change.

"Tony Abbott is becoming increasingly isolated from public opinion on the impact of climate change," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

A spokesman for federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the minister "also recognises climate variability but what he has consistently said is that he does not believe a carbon tax will fix this".

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Chick Olsson
19/07/2015 12:31:52 PM

And folks, here is the perfect oxymoronic set of conclusions, wondering if man is changing the climate, and calling for a transition to another mysterious energy source?? NSW Lemmings Assoc ..
Hilda Hereford
20/07/2015 7:23:04 AM

Oh MY!! And what pray tell do non fossil fuel tractors look like, are they powered by little nuclear reactors or do they have a few solar panels on them??
20/07/2015 8:29:22 AM

Don't worry Hilda they will just hitch the tractor up with a long extension cord to one of those big wind turbines !! Can't wait to see how that works out.
20/07/2015 8:37:24 AM

Ms Hereford, a very good question indeed. Fork-lifts have been electric for ever, but the technology doesn't exist for diesel tractor replacement. John Hewson points out that farms are well suited for the production of bio-diesel, and that this should be reserved for the production of food. Farmers will be using diesel tractors for a long time, and we should be concentrating our efforts on replacing fossil fuels in areas such as energy generation and personal travel.
20/07/2015 9:15:30 AM

Yes with these sorts of attitudes the wright brothers would have never flown. Don't forget the fastest trains in the world are Electric. Is your hand drill still manual or perhaps it's Diesel!!!
20/07/2015 10:06:30 AM

Hey Will my future tractor Will be electric I am looking for a long enough extension cord now !!
20/07/2015 10:42:31 AM

A positive move. It will help to overcome the image of farmers being a bit slow on the uptake. Can someone inform me as to how a modern society can exist without an underpinning reliance on science? Even is we don't understand it, we rely on it. And yes I have looked at all the claims that climate science is a fraud. If those claims were based on science they would have gained credibility.
20/07/2015 10:56:29 AM

And we can all trust your studies and opinion on what you think constitutes sound climate science can we BG ? lol , I think not.
20/07/2015 12:01:20 PM

Errr BG they have gained credibility. That's why we are all here having this conversation.
20/07/2015 1:23:32 PM

A wonderful case study on why we have real troubles! Farmer groups everywhere bemoan the lack of 'young people' getting involved, and having a say. Yet when they do, the likes of Chick, Hilda and Darwin, doing their best to channel the old muppets 'Statler and Waldorf' roll out the "its not for me" line. The motion intends a move away from fossil fuels, and not a complete replacement of. No doubt when fuel gets expensive again these three will be in the front of the line asking for a subsidy or increase in their tax break. Well done to the forward thinking NSW Farmers members on this one.
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