Farmers are working hard to help the environment, but the ‘quoted experts’ need to work hard too, explains Greg Jarratt, vet and director of Matamata Veterinary Services.
The survey, by Nielsen Research, was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Research programme.
“These latest results show that 92% of farmers are focused on making their farm more environmentally sustainable, up from 78% in the last survey of 2009. That’s really heartening”, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
“Some of the specific actions farmers mentioned were riparian/shelter planting, waterway control, improved fertiliser management and more efficient irrigation systems. This gives us a really valuable understanding of what is front of mind for farmers.”
“Slightly disheartening” is that only 23% of farmers anticipate an increased focus on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in the next five years.
“So that’s something for us all to work on,” says O’Connor.
Minister for Climate Change James Shaw says that the results of the survey are consistent with expectations.
“The survey shows that farmers have a better understanding of what they are able to do on-farm to be more environmentally sustainable, with the exception of greenhouse gas emissions reduction – an area where we know farmers feel they need more information and advice.
“The Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG) report told us that there are lots of solutions emerging, but that the situation varies from farm-to-farm and so solutions need to be tailored.
“That’s why we are now investing in developing that advice and integrated farm planning tools. We need to support farmers and growers to transition to sustainable land-use through planning and informed decision-making.
“Last year the government consulted on the Zero Carbon Bill, which showed the need to give certainty and direction on the pathway to a low-emissions economy. We will also soon receive the recommendations of the Interim Climate Change Committee on addressing agricultural emissions. This will help us move forward and provide the certainty that will enable rural communities to make long-term decisions,” Shaw says.
Minister O’Connor says farmersface a changing climate.
“They need to prepare to cope with the intensifying weather effects of climate change and at the same time reduce their environmental footprint – that takes investment in infrastructure, and means you need to be financially viable.
“The Coalition Government is scoping the development of resources and information for farmers to fill the knowledge gap in ways to reduce emissions, working with the sector to develop practical on-farm knowledge.”
The full report is available on the MPI website.