A new report on Australian farmers has shown a large knowledge gap among farmers around the carbon market and climate change.
The ‘Farming Forever’ report published by Farmers for Climate Action on Wednesday interviewed 600 Australian farmers about climate change, the carbon market and drought.
The report found that only one in ten farmers surveyed is active in the carbon market.
Fiona Davis of Farmers for Climate Action said the survey revealed that farmers want to reduce emissions but don’t know where to turn and need help.
“The survey found that 93 percent of farmers are willing to switch to low-emission production, but only 30 percent have had a practical demonstration on how to do it,” said Fiona Davis of Farmers for Climate Action.
Seventy percent of the interviewed farmers do not understand the carbon market and 38 percent do not get involved because they do not know how to do it.
The report called for more education for farmers on carbon and climate, and recommends that a network of extension officers dedicated to carbon agriculture be established to conduct demonstrations, field days and farm visits.
“We see a role for government to support farmers by investing in emissions reduction technologies and initiatives, such as an instant write-off of tax assets for renewable energy or on-farm energy storage,” Ms. Davis said.
Victorian rancher Olivia Lawson was one of the 600 farmers interviewed.
While he has done his homework on carbon farming, he is not surprised that many have been left confused.
“I’m not surprised…there’s a lot to understand,” he said.
“There are many risks and benefits to consider, it’s certainly not easy.”
For the past two decades, the bull breeder has been farming organically, eliminating synthetic fertilizers and chemicals, with the goal of improving ground cover and soil health.
“Our ultimate goal is really to leave our land in better condition than when we found it.”
Despite being a supporter of the carbon market, the Victorian producer has not sought to trade carbon credits due to cost and ‘unknowns’.
“It’s not something we’ve delved into yet… I don’t know if there will be much upside for us in terms of earnings,” he told AAP.
And he wants more simplified independent information available to farmers.
“There hasn’t been any direct line of communication that we can go to for transparent information about what it all means,” Lawson told AAP.
“I think farmers need to be rewarded more for the ecosystem services they provide to society,” he said.
The Farming Forever report also found a general lack of understanding among farmers about the federal government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund.
Ninety percent of those surveyed had not accessed the fund.