Drought Policy

(twisty) #29

It’s hard to farm uncleared land, unless you’re into firewood. Although it might be true it does seem a bit of a stretch, and a bit of a dumb reason for clearing.

Drone seeding skips a few steps in the process like raising and potting seedlings. All the labour intensive work is no longer needed. I’ve planted a lot of trees and wish I had drones …

(pip linney-barber) #30

It seems our current government has the opposite idea Twisty.

(https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/04/great-barrier-reef-forest-three-times-size-of-act-cleared-in-past-five-years)

The Guardian this morning notes that 770,000 hectares of land has been cleared in the last five years in the GBR catchment zone. Good one Australia!

I guess if prayer is going to fix the drought there’s no reason it won’t save the reef as well.

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(twisty) #31

They also say claims that Australia will meet its Kyoto targets are misleading because Australia claims emissions reductions based on reduced land clearing after 1990 - a year when clearing rates were unusually high.

… sigh

(twisty) #32

Just farming subsidies?

2018-19 Budget Estimate: $247.7 million

Would you rather eat or drive?

(Jesse Hermans) #33

All subsidies to for profit enterprises in general. Don’t take it personally lol…
Yeah I get that relative to agriculture there is a lot more corporate welfare on the books, and Australia has been a world leader in removing or suppressing agricultural subsidies.

My point was more that the subsidies to agricultural producers generally benefit encumbent landowning farmers rather than “farmers” per se. A new entrant who either buys farmland off an existing owner or becomes a tenant farmer does not take in the supposed benefits, given the subsidies capitalise into land rents and prices. So on this basis I don’t view them as a particularly good policy. Policy which is more important is environmental policy that ensures the quality of the farmland itself is protected. Whether or not an individual “farm business” fails is not the problem. Another farmer can always come in and buy the land and assets off the failed business. What’s important is that physical land fertility etc. is not destroyed from fracking, excessive land clearing etc. The financial situation of individual businesses is not the concern of the state.

This aside, from what I’ve heard farmers in Australia are heavily indebted a lot of the time, supposedly more so because they are less subsidised. So finding policies which increase/attract more equity investment through e.g Agricultural REITs might be a good way to help tackle that problem.*

*Disclaimer I own shares in RFF, an Agricultural REIT

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(twisty) #34

Aye

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(Jesse Hermans) #35

A way to deal with encumbent landowning farmers who bought farms (presumably with big mortgages) with implicit expectations of bail outs and subsidies, would be to grandfather subsidies. If subsidies and bail-outs were explicitly prohibited for all farms purchased and new leases signed after a certain future date, then future buyers and tenants of farms would capitalise this into their expectations and willingness to pay. People selling and leasing farms would cop some small losses from this initially. Then after 20 years or something you could apply the policy to everyone across the board.

The only problem is the policy position would have to be credible. And every drought that comes along usually the government capitulates and undoes any possible commitment. So we’re stuck like this it seems.

This probably calls for a second best solution: the creation of a national govt insurance fund for farmers - you only get subsidies and assistance if you pay the premiums (which could be set at cost on a not-for-profit basis). If we make implicit govt assistance explicit and conditional, it becomes far harder for ineffective farmers to justify bail-outs. What do you reckon @twisty ?

(twisty) #36

I like this

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(twisty) #37

No policy ideas but close to home for me …

(twisty) #38
(Andrew Downing) #39

What are they going to do with all that money? Make it rain?

#40

Better answer is to start actively engineering the climate more to our liking. Fixing drought welfare can only go so far. There are other examples of successful meddling on the macro scale, although admittedly they’re mostly dams and seabed reclamation.

Oh wait, I see you’re already way ahead of me. Neat. :relaxed:

I wonder if working towards converting some of the bight desert area into forest would help?

(twisty) #41

They could do something like this …

Like the rest of New South Wales, Mulloon Creek is in drought. The egg and beef operation, 45 minutes outside Canberra, is experiencing its driest seven months on record, with less than 150mm of rainfall.

But, unlike other farms in the region, there’s water flowing through the creek — crystal clear water, good enough to drink.

This is no miracle — it’s the result of Mr Coote’s dedication over a decade to the ethos of Peter Andrews, lauded for his ability to rehabilitate dry, degraded and salt-ravaged landscapes.

Australian Story’s 2005 episode on Mr Andrews and Tarwyn Park, the Hunter Valley property where he pioneered his controversial land regenerating system known as natural sequence farming, was one of the program’s most popular ever.

It’s pretty basic stuff.

Using rocks, fallen trees and other natural debris, a weir is constructed across the creek, not to stop the water from flowing through, but to slow the water down.

It then has a chance to seep into the landscape on either side, rather than gushing down the creek system and straight out to sea, taking important nutrients with it.

And there’s some science behind it …

Scientific benchmarking has proven the success of the work Mr Coote and Mr Andrews undertook in 2006, now known as the Pilot Project, with a 63 per cent increase in production on the hydrated land.

Two years ago The Mulloon Institute was recognised by the United Nations as one of only five case studies globally to demonstrate landscape-scale sustainable agriculture.

(Andrew Downing) #42

Have you seen this guy before?
He’s got a really interesting story about how to reverse desertification based on herding practices.
He’s also actually been doing it in quite a few places.

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(twisty) #43

No. Very interesting and a bit Permaculture with rotational grazing. I’m good with that.

(Andrew Downing) #44

Yeah, the idea that grass lands and large herds are a symbiotic relationship is interesting.

(Andrew Downing) #45

Hey, and now that I watched a YouTube video about reversing desertification, it keep throwing up new similar items …

China is at it too.

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(Andrew A) #46

I am not scientist, but definitely think land clearing has been a contribution to drought in Australia. Plantations and Forests retain humidity and allow for rain to occur when there is destabilisation in weather patterns. New water projects should include tree planting and irrigation for these trees where cleared land is not in use. Partial areas of farmland should be reserved for small clusters of trees to create small micro climate zones. I have come to this conclusion due to what occurs at Canarvon Gorge. Even in drought it rains at Canarvon due to the forest that lays within. This is a good example of the benefits of micro climate zones.

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(Laura) #47

you are quite right.
How about we also stop chopping down old-growth and rainforests?

(twisty) #48

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01026-8

tl:dr … Plantations suck at storing carbon, compared to natural forests.

Restoring natural forests is the best way to remove atmospheric carbon. Plans to triple the area of plantations will not meet 1.5 °C climate goals. New natural forests can.

To stem global warming, deforestation must stop. And restoration programmes worldwide should return all degraded lands to natural forests — and protect them.

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