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Poor assumptions undermine efforts to protect agriculture from climate change

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 28 May 2013

Australia's key agricultural forecaster has stood by its prediction of a 30% increase in agricultural productivity by 2025, despite admitting in Senate Estimates that it's modelling only factors in a modest impact from climate change and severe weather.

The prediction of a 30% productivity increase was contained in the Federal Government's newly released Food Plan.

"The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) have confirmed they are assuming a continuation of more normal weather conditions in the coming years. This is contrary to significant scientific evidence that shows us the climate is shifting," Senator Siewert, Australian Greens Spokesperson on Agriculture said today.

"For example, in my home state of Western Australia, we are already dealing with the impact of climate change.

"Assumptions like this undermine our confidence in government's capacity to assist the agricultural sector to prepare for climate change and extreme events.

"It is also demonstrates some significant internal confusion. ABARES is also working on issues of adaptation for the agricultural sector in places like the Eastern Wheat belt to understand the impact that significant climate variation is having and will have on their yields.

"But at the same time, they've failed to adequately account for the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector in their predictions of a 30% increase in productivity in the Food Plan.

"Adaptation is critical and Australian farmers, who are innovative and hard-working, are now under pressure and need more than promises that everything will work out fine.

"Farmers need people in Government who will set long term agricultural and food policies with their eyes fully open to the threats that farmers face, not just business as usual," concluded Senator Siewert


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