Dairy and beef farming have been the traditional lifeblood of the South Gippsland economy. Our clean, well-watered pastures have supported generations and led to the prosperity of our region.

Farmers know their land and understand the risks to their livelihood posed by a rapidly changing and less predictable climate.

Farmers work with the seasons and think in the long-term. Individually and through their industry organisations, they are planning for the effects of higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns as well as trying to minimise global warming through carbon-neutral farming practices.

The beef industry is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and is investing around $12.3 million a year in environmental sustainability towards achieving this goal. The dairy industry is committed to a 30 per cent emissions reduction by 2030, with many individual farmers working towards carbon neutrality. Speaking to local farmers and looking at industry websites, the issues of farm biodiversity, water security and shelterbelts are critical to the future viability of these industries.

Farmers are planting hardy, native vegetation shelterbelts, restoring and maintaining the health of the waterways on their farms.

However, for healthy biodiversity, the work being done on individual farms should be linked up and the whole network in turn linked to existing areas of natural environment.

Biodiversity has been recognised industry-wide as an important factor in future farm security and this is an area where the council could make a significant impact by changing planning and land-use zoning regulations to prioritise biolinks.

The Local Government Act 2020 clearly sets out that councils have a responsibility to promote the economic, social and environmental sustainability of their region – a bit of re-zoning would go a long way towards doing that!

Anda Banikos, candidate for Coastal Promontory Ward, Fish Creek.