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Dr Nerissa Hannink
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A new project has been launched to help farmers better prepare for extreme climate events and increase productivity and profits through proactive management practices.

The $6.2 million project called ‘Forewarned is forearmed: equipping farmers and agricultural value chains to proactively manage the impacts of extreme climate events’ was awarded to a large national consortium led by Meat & Livestock Australia under Round 3 of the Federal Government’s Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit programme.

The project will deliver direct value to farmers through improving the forecast of extremes and, equipping farmers with industry specific risk management plans, together with the tools to be forewarned and proactively prepared.

A partnership between University of Melbourne, University of Southern Queensland), state governments (DEDJTR, SARDI, DAF-QLD) and the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG), will work directly with farmers and farm consultants, to develop risk management plans for each industry equipping farmers to proactively manage extreme events, as well as extending project outputs to producers and advisors.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and Monash University will conduct research to deliver improved forecasts of the likelihood of climate extremes on multi-week and seasonal timescales – beyond the traditional 7-day weather forecast.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, announced the grant during a visit to the operations centre of the Bureau of Meteorology, one of 14 project partners on Wednesday 7 June.

Professor Richard Eckard will lead the University of Melbourne node of the project and says that Australian farmers and agribusiness operate in one of the most variable climates of any country in the world.

“Australia’s extreme events and climate variability are the largest drivers of fluctuations in annual agricultural income and production,” says Prof Eckard from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences and the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC).

“A clear affirmation of the significance of extreme climate events is that the project is co-funded by the majority of Australia’s agricultural industries including the grains (GRDC), Dairy (DA), red-meat (MLA), rice (RIRDC), Sugar (SRA), Cotton (CRDC), viticulture (WA) and pork (APL) industries, as well as Suncorp.”

“The project will provide significant options for a wide range of farm level and agricultural industry operational and investment decisions, as well as decreasing the impacts of extreme climate events on farm and industry profit.”