Population growth raises climate change challenge
16 February 2016: Following the announcement that Australia’s population hit 24 million overnight, farmers are highlighting the need to protect the affordability, quality and reliability of our food in the face of climate change.
With Australia’s population increasing by one every minute and a half according to the latest Bureau of Statistics report, competition for arable land and natural resources is placing increased demands on food production systems.
Jamberoo-based dairy farmer Lynne Strong has said it is important for both farmers and consumers to be aware of the link between climate change and reliable access to affordable and quality food supplies, and the pressures climate change places on producers.
“Australia’s farmers are among the world’s best at growing quality food for our nation and many more around the globe. Our farmers supply 93% of the food Australian families consume yet only 6% of Australian soils are suitable for growing crops.
“Over the next four decades, more food will need to be produced than has been during the last 10,000 years combined.
“The last 100 years has seen Australia become increasingly urbanised. An estimated 89 percent of Australians now live in urban areas, with no close links to rural communities and little knowledge about the production of their food. It’s equally troubling that farmers are also gradually losing touch with urban communities through their reduced interaction with modern supply chains.
“The diversity and complexity of the modern Australian economy now means greater competition for resources, including land, water and people, among all sectors. A greater awareness of the role agriculture plays in supporting our cities will contribute to informed decision making around resource allocation.
“It’s clear that to move forward and meet the escalating food needs of our cities, as well as satisfy the community’s expectations about environmental sustainability and animal care; both rural and urban communities must have a greater understanding of one another.”
In recent years, several expert bodies have warned against complacency with regard to Australian food production and profitability, recognising that the changing climate, coupled with increasing competition for land and water and non-renewable energy, poses a considerable long-term challenge, especially with Australia’s population projected to grow to 35-40 million by mid-century (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013).
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