AUSTRALIAN farmers are sceptical about climate change and many do not believe it will affect agriculture during their lifetimes, a report says.But the CSIRO research is calling on rural producers to increase their knowledge of the implications of global warming so they can make their farms more resistant to changing climatic conditions.The report, A Participatory Approach to Developing Climate Change Adaption Options for NSW Farming Systems, identifies ways farmers can protect their livelihoods, such as by planting crops that can withstand hotter and drier weather, identifying ways to manage fertiliser, and maximising water use through efficient harvesting.The report confirmed there was significant scepticism and misunderstanding among farmers on climate change and the impact it would have on agriculture. Farmers must also prepare for a future carbon emissions trading scheme.CSIRO research team leader Steven Crimp said the need for improved climate change knowledge was paramount.”There is a lot of information about climate change and climate projections but there isn’t a lot of information on how to make changes within farm management,” he said.”Many farmers don’t believe that climate change will affect them in their lifetime but we are already starting to see the effects of climate change and variation on the land.”A spokeswoman for NSW Climate Change minister Frank Sartor said the government was working with farmers to assess regional areas for climate change vulnerability.”The impacts of climate change pose a considerable risk to farmers,” she said. “Probable effects include hotter, drier conditions, which will put crops under greater heat and water stress.”Agricultural business workshops for young farmers have been established by the food and agribusiness specialist bank Rabobank to deal with emerging challenges for Australian producers. They cover leadership strategies, business planning and economic management.Andrew Stott, 23, from Whitton in the NSW Riverina, took part in one workshop. He runs the family farm in partnership with his father, Richard, and brother Mathew. It has been operating since 1977.The 2200-hectare property produces grains and seed crops including lettuce, onions, sorghum, pumpkin, maize and sunflowers. It also has a 100-hectare vineyard.Mr Stott said climate change would prove a challenge for farmers.”Climate change and carbon emissions will drive some farmers off the land. You can’t produce a product without making the changes needed,” he said.”Farmers need to accept that there are going to be changes [in the future] that will mean we have to pay more taxes. The drought has been affecting us for eight years and, up until this point, that has been our biggest challenge.”The workshop taught me how to be economically sustainable in our family business and has improved my management skills. We have to keep a very close eye on what we’re spending and constantly watch our overall crop costs.”Workshop co-ordinator Skye Ward said the seminars prepared farmers for the possibility of a carbon emissions trading scheme and further water shortages.”My husband and I run a farm and decided that we needed to address the emerging issues in the farming sector,” Ms Ward said.”These workshops allow like-minded farmers to come together and share ideas and compare what business tools they are using to prepare for the impact of climate change on their business practices.”
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