Yesterday the ABS released a supplementary piece of analysis to the recent Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport report into Climate Change and the Australian Agricultural Sector. This ABS analysis focuses on the views of farm managers on climate change and it’s effects on their business.

Some of the findings are interesting – actually, the whole report is pretty interesting for anyone that way inclined and is worth a read. The thing that stood out was the responses of farm managers to three questions. Firstly, whether farmers believe that climate has changed, secondly whether that change has affected their particular farm holdings, and thirdly, whether that climate change has forced farmers to change their management practices.

These surveys were undertaken by the ABS during 2006/7 and ran from a total sample of around 150,000 – pretty large by any yardstick.

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What the new analysis found however was that agricultural business “Owner/Operators” were  20% less likely to believe that the climate affecting their farm holding had changed compared to managers of farms without ownership skin in the game.To quote the ABS:

To put this another way, land managers who did not own the business were 1.26 times more likely than owner/operators to perceive that climate affecting the holding had changed.

Another piece of data to come out was the effects that were perceived to have occurred as a consequence of climate change.

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Of all industries, the ABS says:

Agricultural industries with a high percentage of businesses reporting that they considered the climate affecting their holding had changed were citrus fruit growing (81.0%), apple and pear growing (77.3%), rice growing (74.7%), and dairy cattle farming (73.5%). In contrast, 41.5% of sugar cane growers considered the climate affecting their holding had changed.

Similarly, the ABS asked what the impact of these changes were on farm holdings.

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So far, the majority of the impacts from climate change are overwhelmingly seen to be negative. What is interesting about this politically is the National Party line on climate change. One wonders just how close the Nats are to the beliefs of the actual farming communities that the National Party allegedly represents.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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