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Green light for Senate inquiry into agricultural strategy for climate change

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 19 Sep 2007

The Greens today successfully moved a motion in the Senate to establish an Inquiry into the future of agriculture in a drying climate.

"We desperately need a strategy to  make certain that policy settings are consistent in addressing both food security  and the need to help our agricultural sector deal with climate change and to provide the practical assistance needed to adapt," said Senator Rachel Siewert today "Continuing business as usual is not acceptable."

"Securing food and fuel supplies on the driest continent on earth in the face of climate change needs a complete rethink about how and what we do in agriculture," said Senator Milne.

"It is irresponsible and grossly inadequate to respond to dire crop forecasts and the pain caused to rural communities by promising bandaid cheques and platitudes about the drought eventually breaking," she said.

"Our agricultural sector is fast approaching crisis. We need to address the issue of the future of agriculture urgently," said Senator Siewert.

"These poor seasons are no longer 'exceptional' circumstances. What we are seeing is not just one of the worst droughts in history but a shift in our climate. It is unfair to keep landholders hanging on without putting real resources into helping them adapt."

Senator Siewert and Senator Milne have twice previously attempted to establish similar inquiries.
"This is not so much a win for the Greens as a win for common sense," she said.

The motion to refer this issue to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Trasport Committee and the terms of reference for the inquiry:

The motion agreed to by the Senate reads,

That the Senate:

1.      Notes the dire state of the latest ABARE Crop Report (No. 143, released 18th September 2007).
2.      Recognises the severe impact of a series of ongoing poor seasons of the livelihoods of Australian farmers and the knock-on effect on the well-being of associated rural communities.
3.      Notes the need to ensure the security of Australian food production.
4.      That the following matters be referred to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee for inquiry and report by 30 June 2008:
a.      The scientific evidence available on the likely future climate of our key agricultural production zones, and its implications for current farm enterprises and possible future industries
b.      The need for a national strategy to assist Australian agricultural industries to adapt to climate change
c.       The adequacy of existing drought assistance and exceptional circumstances programs to cope with long-term climactic changes.

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