20 March 2023

Haines pressures Government to offer support for farmers on climate change

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has moved a motion in the House of Representatives calling on the Parliament to act on the threat posed to Australia’s agricultural sector by climate change and to take action to support farmers.

Dr Haines has proposed a network of 200 agricultural extension officers be funded by Government to provide context-specific, trusted and neutral educational outreach services and advice on the technology, products and practices that will help farmers lower their emissions.

“Agricultural extension officers have historically played a role in translating science into practice for Australia’s agricultural sector at points of significant change, upheaval and opportunity and this is one of those moments,” Dr Haines said.

Dr Haines’ plan would involve government funding for 200 agricultural extension officers across 20 regional centres. It has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $33 million a year over four years.

“Many farmers I speak to across Indi tell me they want to play a part in reducing our national emissions and are looking to becoming climate neutral themselves,” Dr Haines said.

“They talk to me about the challenges in navigating carbon measurement, auditing and certification and they express genuine concern about the integrity of carbon credits.

“There is also great concern within the farming community about how they will be affected by the Government’s Safeguard Mechanism, with too much reliance on the agricultural sector to offset emissions in other sectors.

“My plan is a way to start providing answers, action and a way forward for farmers and for Government to truly support them.”

Dr Haines has taken the plan to the Government and hopes to see it funded in the upcoming Federal Budget.

“I have discussed this idea with Agriculture Minister Murray Watt several times and I am confident he is listening. His comments to the Farmers for Climate Action event last week show he does understand the challenges the sector faces,” Dr Haines said.

“I have a practical plan and I am saying to the Government ‘pick this up and run with it’. This is the way to get the best technology, products and practices in the hands of our farmers. It’s an invitation and if Minister Watt is serious about partnering with farmers, he will fund this network in the Budget.”

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