What are farmers around the world doing to prepare for climate change?

Farmers around the globe are experiencing the impacts of a changing climate.  However, we don’t have to wait to see what happens to our food and farming systems.  It’s possible to take proactive action now to address climate change.  And some countries are doing just that.

Australia and Scotland both have innovative agriculture and climate change programs that combine farmer know-how and science to ensure sustainable farming systems for the years to come.

Australia

Australia’s Farming Future is the government-run program that assists farmers in preparing for climate change.  It includes the Climate Change Research Program, the FarmReady Program, and the Climate Change Adjustment Program.

The Climate Change Research Program provides on-farm demonstrations and research on how changes in farming practices can help with climate change adaptation and mitigation of climate change for primary agricultural industries, focusing on the management of soils in farming practices, reducing greenhouse gas pollution, and adapting practices to climate change.  This research program is large scale, involving various research providers, industry groups, and universities, and represents the first steps toward Australia’s solutions to climate change.

The FarmReady program is a grant program involving training farmers, indigenous land managers and farming groups in ways to develop practices for responding to the impacts of climate change.  The program provides grant funding for producers to train their staff in new practices to adapt to climate change as well as undertake projects for adapting to climate change.  The two grants available are the FarmReady Reimbursement Grants, which allow producers and industries to receive up to $1,500 (AUD) for training courses, and the FarmReady Industry Grants, which allow up to $80,000 (AUD) per year for the installation of farm management practices for adjusting to climate change impacts.

The Climate Change Adjustment Program is an advice, counseling, and assessment program that also aims to help producers and industries manage the impacts of climate change through training grants, financial assessment, and business analysis.  This program allows farmers to use the assistance of the government to re-evaluate farming practices and create a Climate Change Action Plan for an industry in order to better its farming practices and prepare for the impacts of global warming.

The Torr Farm participates in Scotland’s Climate Change Focus Farms Initiative.

Scotland

The Scottish Agricultural College’s program Farming For a Better Climate (FBCC) provides research opportunities, planning and information on ways that farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

A related initiative, the Climate Change Focus Farms Initiative, works with four farms to demonstrate practical approaches to climate change.  Through the program, each operation seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and use practices that increase farm resilience to climate change.  These farms are part of the program run by the government-funded Scottish Agricultural College FBCC initiative that works toward climate change research and mitigation.

One of the participating farms is Torr Farm, an organic dairy farm that uses clovers to fix nitrogen in the soil and uses nitrous oxide monitoring chambers to monitor how much nitrous oxide is released from the soils.  Stewart Tower Farm is in the process of working toward combating climate change by taking account of the nutrients in farmyard manure as well as using inorganic fertilizers more efficiently.

Maintaining a viable food production base in the face of climate change is central for our health and security.  By combining research, on-farm demonstration, training, and technical support Australia and Scotland are taking steps to ensure that agriculture is ready for a changing climate.  There’s no reason California and the rest of the United States cannot do the same.

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