Farmers for Climate Action: Deep Dive
Read our full Deep Dive on Farmers Climate Action:
Farmers for Climate Action (FCA) is a movement of farmers, agricultural leaders and rural Australians working to ensure they are a key part of the solution to climate change.
Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Australian economy. It has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and is also increasingly impacted by climate change. FCA’s members are frustrated by the federal government’s lack of response to their ongoing calls to strengthen Australia’s climate targets and policies.1 The National Party (‘the Nationals’) claims to represent Australian farming communities, but its efforts to exclude the sector from climate commitments is considered one of the biggest failures in nation-wide efforts to address climate change.
FCA’s theory of change is grounded in the belief that if it organises farmers, graziers and agriculturalists to lead climate solutions on-farm and advocate together, it can influence the sector and the government to adopt climate policies that reduce emissions and benefit rural communities. Given the Nationals is one of the most significant barriers to climate action in Australia, FCA’s influence in key Nationals-held constituencies will help achieve the policies needed for Australia to reduce emissions at the scale and speed necessary to avoid catastrophic temperature rise.
Officially founded in 2016, FCA is a relatively young organisation. FCA is likely to become the largest farmer-led organisation in Australia, and is the only farmer-led organisation focused solely on climate change in the Australian agricultural sector.2 FCA is a registered charity,3 with over 45,000 supporters, of which more than 6,500 are farmers.4 It has grown significantly since being established, and has a budget of almost $1.5 million for the 2021-2022 financial year. The FCA Board Directors are industry leaders, with more than 200 years of combined experience in agriculture.
Despite being a relatively new organisation, FCA has proven to have significant influence on the climate change policies that will help farmers reduce emissions. FCA played a key role in gaining bipartisan support for a net zero by 2050 target through its work with conservative politicians, the NFF, and its contribution to shifting the conversation about climate change across the agricultural sector. The experts we interviewed indicated FCA was instrumental in both the Nationals and the National Farmers’ Federation’s (NFF) decision to support an economy-wide net zero by 2050 target.
This is significant given the relationship between the NFF and the Nationals Party. FCA’s advocacy efforts also saw Nationals MP Anne Webster announce that she would not uphold the National Party’s line on coal.
FCA has also garnered significant support from the Victorian Nationals politicians, which has also started calling for stronger climate action.
In addition to FCA’s policy-focused work, its education and training of farmers is helping farmers understand and implement climate smart practices that reduce agriculture and land use emissions. This work, among other communications and research initiatives, has helped position them as an evidence-based voice on climate change, with ongoing efforts to mobilise farmers to better engage with the public discourse as well.
We surveyed 52 experts in Australian climate change policy development and 11 of them cited FCA as one the most influential organisations working on climate policy in Australia: this is the second highest of any of the organisations nominated. Based on FCA’s achievements, strategic approach to addressing climate policy barriers, and the impact that additional funding would have, we recommend it as one of our top organisations for influencing federal government climate policy.