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$46.2 million to help farmers adapt to climate change.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

$46.2 million to help farmers adapt to climate change 7 July 2008 DAFF08/5B

The Rudd Government has committed $46.2 million for a new Climate Change Research Program to help prepare Australia’s primary industries for climate change by closing gaps in research and development.

The new fund is part of the $130 million Australia’s Farming Future initiative, announced in the Federal Budget to ensure our $38 billion agricultural industries are resilient into the future.

The $46.2 million program is a significant boost in research and will target three key priorities:

• Reducing greenhouse pollution

• Better soil management

• Adapting to a changing climate

It follows the release yesterday of a joint report by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology showing that in the worst scenario droughts could occur twice as often and cover twice the area.

The report found there was a need for better ways of getting information about climate change preparedness to farmers.

In December last year, ABARE released a report showing Australian production of key commodities could fall by up to 10% by 2030, worth around $4.2 billion in today’s terms, if we fail to act on climate change.

The $46.2 million Climate Change Research Program will support research with an emphasis on showing how it can be applied on the ground in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food industries.

Research which could be funded includes how carbon is stored in soil, new technology, helping primary producers reduce greenhouse pollution and improving productivity in response to climate change.

Specific projects could include research to reduce methane emissions from cattle by changing the animals’ diet or breed, or even by immunising against methane-making microbes.

Expressions of interest will be called shortly for collaborative research proposals which help primary producers to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.

Large-scale collaborative research proposals covering multiple industry sectors will be encouraged, including partnerships between research providers and farmers using new technology on their properties.

“The Rudd Government is serious about addressing the challenge of climate change and working with our primary industries to prepare them for the future,” Mr Burke said.

“Research and development will be essential to boost productivity and global competitiveness, while ensuring our primary industries are resilient in the long-term.

“As yesterday’s CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report showed, failing to act on climate change could be catastrophic for those working in our farming, fisheries, forestry and food industries.”