Media release

Farmers tell politicians to cut pollution and protect their future

A growing number of Australian farmers are urgently calling on the federal government to update its approach to energy and climate policy in order to protect the agriculture industry.

Today, the National Farmers’ Federation announced its support for a market mechanism, which could include an emissions trading scheme or Renewable Energy Target, as a cheap and effective way of cutting pollution from the energy sector.

Farmers for Climate Action says Australia urgently needs smart policies to address climate change and fix the energy sector mess. These should rapidly cut carbon pollution while supporting farmers and regional communities.

FCA co-chair Charlie Prell said farmers are on the front line of climate change, so it’s in their interest to be involved in developing and participating in solutions to the issue.

“We can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand. We need to address climate change, and in order to do that we must support policies that cut carbon pollution. In southern tablelands of New South Wales, where I farm, we have just experienced the hottest summer on record, which followed the wettest winter for decades. Farmers all around the country, in all sectors, are feeling the effects of climate change with hotter heatwaves, longer droughts, extreme floods and more intense bushfires.

“This wreaks havoc on our crops and livestock, and risks our communities and livelihoods. This is why a ‘do nothing’ approach is not an option.”

Co-chair Lucinda Corrigan said Australia should urgently update its energy policies in a way that actually benefited farmers and farming communities.

“It’s been disappointing to see how slow our politicians have been in rising to this energy challenge. Our infrastructure is well past its use-by date, and urgently needs replacing. We are seeing rapid changes in technology, including in renewable energy and storage, as well as in consumer behavior.

“Clearly, the old way of doing things no longer cuts it. We want to make sure our electricity system is replaced with something that’s fit for purpose and which fixes the problems of the old one. All farmers deserve a reliable electricity system even if they live at the edges of the grid. All farmers should be able to choose and generate their own energy sources, so that we’re not at the mercy of rising prices, keep investment local and play a part in the solution.”

A submission to the Finkel review into the National Electricity Market from Farmers for Climate Action calls for:

– Bi-partisan political support for the recommendations of the final report from the Finkel Review
– A comprehensive re-writing of the NEM that would encourage competition in the generating, transmission and retailing sectors, address the existing lack of transparency, and facilitate the integration of distributed renewable energy generation,
– Creation of a stable policy environment for generators that encourages the investment in new generation infrastructure that is so desperately needed
– Recognition of the role of small scale solar in the NEM and a fair and stable feed-in-tariff for these generators
– Incentives and financial support for the development and roll out of storage systems, including batteries and other alternatives
– Incentives for consumers on the remote edges of the grid to install stand-alone generation and disconnect from the grid.