Bernard Soubry published an opinion piece in Policy Options this week, while the paper on which it is based works its way through the peer review process (at most journals having become like treacle thanks to COVID). The message lines up well with his overall message of the importance of engaging farmers on matters that affect them, and engaging them as experts. His first PhD paper, “Are we taking farmers seriously?“, found the answer, when it comes to climate change, is generally “no”. His second paper, “Farming along desire lines“, illustrated the many farmer-led climate resilience initiatives in the Maritimes that indicate the gaps that government has left in terms of supports. The pending third paper takes the message to Ottawa, as you can now read, by exploring divergent understandings of resilience in the farming sector between farmers and policy-makers, based on recent House and Senate studies of climate change and Ag.
A summary of the Pan-American Scientific Delegation to the Falklands appeared recently in Science and Diplomacy, penned by Ray Arnaudo and Dr Lindsay Chura, American diplomat and British Embassy science advisor, respectively. The piece is a useful reminder of the underlying ethos of the Delegation: the naturally collaborative nature of science builds bridges. This is important amidst continuing tensions with Argentina, which still claims the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). The Falklands have mostly looked to the UK for research collaborations (viz: the Shackleton award), but need to strengthen their networks in the region, as a nation to its neighbours, and where ecosystems are shared.
One of the biggest barriers to uptake of a farm-scale change like holistic management (HM) is the building of fences and water supply for all the smaller paddocks required to run a high-intensity short-duration rotational grazing regime. Australia has announced federal tax deductions for such infrastructure, effective July 2016, along with an endorsement of ‘cell grazing’ by Treasurer, Joe Hockey:
“… This initiative will help with cell farming, which is far more productive and is actually better for the environment … A lot of farmers don’t erect fences because it becomes expensive, but the more fencing we have, and the better utilisation of existing farmland through cell farming, you’re going to see a better outcome.”
Cell grazing is not synonymous with HM, but is consistent with one of HM’s composite practices.
It is hard to know if this new policy support is related to the endorsement of HM in the 2010 report from the Australian House of Representatives Inquiry into the role of government in assisting Australian farmers to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which suggested HM as a climate adaptive practice. My Sustainable Farms colleagues and I submitted evidence about the value of HM during drought to this Inquiry in 2009 and were invited in front of it to give evidence, much of which was reflected in the final report. It is worth noting that the federal budget package is not entirely adaptive, including more drought-related loans, which represents buffering and technological fixes rather than behavioural change.