Thousands of farmer sign open letter demanding support from their rural MPs
More than 2000 farmers and graziers are demanding their rural MPs get behind the renewable energy industry via an open letter published today.
“We are deeply concerned by the anti-renewables policies and rhetoric we’re hearing from some of members of Parliament,” the letter reads.
“[This] demonstrates that the Australian Parliament is ignoring a core conservative constituency and your long-term supporters: those of us who feed and clothe Australia and the world.”
Farmers for Climate Action CEO Verity Morgan-Schmidt said the group was publishing the letter and signatories, on its own website as well as printed in The Land newspaper, to make it clear that supporting renewable energy meant supporting farmers.
“Farmers and farming regions benefit more than most from renewable energy and storage solutions. They help farmers cut their own energy costs and pollution, they create desperately needed jobs and investment in rural and regional areas, and can even deliver a secondary, passive source of income for individual farmers.
“Like the rest of the country, farmers are looking to their MPs for a constructive, bipartisan approach to climate and energy policy. Those failing to deliver this will be held responsible.”
David Quince, a livestock farmer in New England, NSW, said if politicians were genuine about protecting agriculture then they must address climate change which was worsening droughts, bushfires and heatwaves around the country.
“Anyone who is really passionate about protecting their country and land would be pushing for more renewable energy not less to be built around the country,” Mr Quince said.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to see extreme weather events escalate and I cannot fathom any responsible person taking a stance against renewables and advocating for expanding fossil fuel production which not only exacerbates climate change, but also directly competes with prime agricultural land ”
Steven Hobbs, a fourth-generation mixed farmer from Kaniva in Victoria, said politicians were putting their own short-term interests ahead of the long-term interests of the country.
“On my farm, we’ve seen rainfall decreasing over the past two decades so we’ve been trying to make changes to mitigate the impacts. We don’t have a choice but to act,” Mr Hobbs said.
“Yet we don’t see any meaningful action from politicians. They’re not thinking any further than the next election, but important matters like energy security shouldn’t be politicized.”
Ella Maesepp, who is part of a farming family in Katanning, Western Australia, knows the benefits of renewable energy and storage first hand.
“From our own experience we’ve seen the benefits that renewable power can bring rural families like ours. Now, our house is completely powered by solar and wind energy and its more reliable, cheaper and we’re no longer polluting,” Mrs Maesepp said. “We’d love to extend renewable power to the rest of our farming operation.”
The letter was started by Jim McDonald, a Quirindi sheep and cereal farmer, after the federal National Party voted in favour of eliminating subsidies for renewable energy, and the Coalition Government pressured energy company AGL to extend the life of a coal-fired power station.
Mr McDonald said it was difficult to understand how rural MPs were looking after the interests of farmers when everything they said and did appeared to be in direct support of the coal and gas industries.
To view the letter and full list of signatories visit: http://www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/open_letter
To speak to signatories, or for other media inquiries: Dinah Arndt on 0425 791 394 email@example.com
Australian Farmers for Climate Action is an alliance of farmers and leaders in agriculture who are working with our peers, the wider sector and decision-makers to make sure Australia takes the actions necessary to address damage to our climate.