FARMERS from across Gippsland fronted the office of Nationals MP Darren Chester last Tuesday, July 6, demanding stronger action on climate change.

It comes as the Victorian Nationals sought to disaffiliate with the federal party, over concerns Barnaby Joyce is not taking climate change seriously.

The Farmers for Climate Action members travelled to Mr Chester’s Sale office to deliver an open letter, signed by more than 30 farmers from the Gippsland electorate.
The letter calls on Mr Chester to “stand up for farmers in Gippsland by supporting strong action on climate in regional Australia”.

“Right now, the EU is drafting legislation that will penalise Australia’s farmers over climate inaction,” the letter states.

“This is why we need you to show your support for the phasing out of coal-fired power plants in Australia, as well as a strong net-zero target and support for farmers in reducing their on-farm emissions.”

Berrys Creek beef farmer Fergus O’Connor was among those in attendance, and said the march had been in the works for some time.

“We were trying to ask Darren to stick up for the farmers,” Mr O’Connor said.

“He’s been quite vocal and come out and spoken quite clearly that The Nationals need to change their climate and energy policy.

“It would just be really great if he could take a leadership role and make a stance, and support the farmers in a bigger way than he is.”

Bengworden wool and sheep meat producer Jenny Robertson, who also marched, said farmers can be part of the solution to climate change, but there needs to be clear policy to enable it.

“It would add to the resilience of the farming system and would be a win for the environment and productivity,” she said.

“Dry periods are already more frequent and make managing farms very difficult.

“Extended droughts impact everything on the farm – ability to run livestock, maintain the property, finances and mental health.”

Ms Robertson would also like to see more farmer-driven science and research involved with climate action in agriculture.

Mr Chester said: “Unfortunately, I was away from my office when the petition was delivered, but I’m always happy to listen to concerns of local residents and meet with them in person, when my schedule allows.”

A letter was also handed to Nationals Mallee MP Anne Webster earlier this month, signed by more than 40 farmers in her electorate.