Transcript of Dairy Climate Futures webinar

Heather Field:

Okay, welcome everyone to today's webinar which is on climate futures for dairy in Northeast Victoria, a farmer driven response. My name is Heather Field and I'm a seasonal risk knowledge broker with agriculture Victoria. And we'll be facilitating today's webinar before our presenters begin. Just a few you house keeping items. This webinar is being recorded and will be made available after today. You are currently muted, just to stop background noise. So if you do have a question, please use the chat function, which is currently explained on your screen and we'll make some time at the end of the presentations today, for questions. There will also be a quick survey following the webinar, and that will only take a minute to complete, and we greatly appreciate your assistance in completing that. Before we commence, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and water on which we are all meeting and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Heather Field:

And I'm tuning in from Ballarat, the lands of the watering people. And I'd like to acknowledge all the lands on which everyone is tuning in from today. So I'm pleased to introduce our presenters today and the project team for the climate futures for dairy project. So we've got three, two, possibly three presenters today. We're just having difficulty with one, but the project team for this project is Lachlan Campbell, who is a regional land care facilitator in Northeast Victoria. We've got Patten bridge who is a principal consultant to the project from Bridge Logic Consulting and Patrick Glass, who is a dairy farmer and chair for Alpine Valley Dairy Incorporated. So first up, we are going to hear a little bit about the Northeast adaptation project and where that fits into this Northeast project. And some of you might remember we had Lachlan Campbell present about 15 months ago on the overall project on embedding climate adaptation or embedding climate change in agriculture.

Heather Field:

So we do have the recording available for that. So I'll pop that in the chat box shortly, just for anyone who is interested in viewing that one. We'll also have a short panel session following the presentations today and questions from the audience. So we have had a little bit of difficulty getting Lachlan online today, but we do have Graeme Anderson who's with us in Agriculture Victoria, who is able to say a few words about the overall project and how this dairy project fits in. So with that, I might hand over to you Graeme, just to say a few words before passing over to Patrick and Patten.

Graeme Anderson:

Thank you Heather and thanks for organizing today. Great session to get into. And Lachlan should be taking the glory here. I think the Northeast CMA has led a fantastic adaptation project. It's got a bunch of funders national land care program so I thank the Australian government for that. So it's been going for a couple of years, but I just think it's been a really good example of ground up collaboration and some, from the very early parts, there was good engagement with farmers to say, well, what sort of things are you concerned about? That was included with a lot of the modeling and the reporting that was done to look at future climate impacts. And then there's been a whole bunch of spinoff projects that have come from that. And this is one of them today, which we'll hear from and Patrick have been on the whole journey.

Graeme Anderson:

Just with the overall project, well, it goes for five years, there's been the climate model tool developed. There's been a lot of work to engage farmers in each industry to make sure what's the things that concern you from a client climate threshold point of view, and then going back and then doing the modeling to see how some of those things might change. There's also been a bunch of terrific spinoff projects. And one of them's been the Alpine Leadership Development Program, as an example, where there's bee a bunch of see the photo there of climate leaders that have gone through that program. But also a number of other projects which are spinning out as side projects because of the initial embedding in adaptation project, which is just fantastic. And we'll get a bit of a sense today of this sort of follow up that's happening with the Alpine Dairy, just about going back after the actual modeling work and then through with dairy farmers about what do you think this means and then where do we go from here?

Graeme Anderson:

So I think it's one of the best grassroots adaptation project around. So there's a lot of good things happening. There's something in the water up there in Northeast Victoria. I'm sure of it. And so thanks for joining today. So you can hear a bit more about what's happening with the Alpine Dairy. So I'll probably throw over to Patrick now. So as a dairy farmer, really interesting about why did you get involved in this and just to set the scene for what we're about to talk about with the dairy report?

Patrick Glass:

Thank you Graeme, after being involved in the CSIROO climate adoption project and modeling, coming through aware of the modeling that changes here and its impact is going to compound at the farm level over the next 30 to 50 years, a group of dairy farmers that were involved in those original discussions in Beachworth with the CSTI, we got together and had a detailed meeting in [inaudible 00:09:20] about how it will impact dairy farming. And we realized we couldn't answer that, every dairy farmer's different. So out of that, and with generous funding from Victoria and government, et cetera, well, [inaudible 00:09:36], Catchment Management Authority, out of that, we developed this project, which would find the answers, and this is the key purpose of it. Find, sorry, find the questions that the dairy farmers of the [inaudible 00:09:54] Valley's needed answers to in 2030 and 2050.

Patrick Glass:

And that's, I can't stress that's enough. This is about finding the questions. It's not finding the answers to those questions. That's the steps we're starting to work through now. Now we know the key questions. So raising some money, we then had some funding and we employed Patten Bridge with Bridge Logic, who we're going to hear from a minute ago. And Patent was tasked with the challenge of getting the dairy farmers to understand what the climate's going to do and trying to start conversations about what impact it will have and what are their knowledge gaps. And that's what I'd like to stress. It was about finding the knowledge gaps of the dairy farmers, what research needed to be implemented now. So there was some scientific based answers to those question in 2030 and 2050. And that was the core purpose of this, of this project.

Patrick Glass:

And I've been as chair of Alpine Valleys. I've been very proud to be a part of this. I think it'll have a lasting impact on, not only dairy farming, because it spreads across all commodities. And I think I'll hand over to Patten now to inform us of the detail and the process that him, along with the steering committee that developed to encourage the dairy farmers to have input into this. So we really knew what questions we needed to answer. Patten.

Patrick Glass:

Just need mute yourself, Patten.

Patten Bridge:

Thanks Patrick. And sorry about that folks. And thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about this project, which has been a real pleasure to be involved with. As Patrick said, this was really about primarily listening to the farmer's voice that we knew was experiencing the impacts of climate adaptation and seeing how that was likely to play out with the predicted impacts ahead. But most importantly, it was really about the process that we went through. So today I'm going to talk a little bit about, just give you a brief overview of the of the area, the process we went through, what we came up with in terms of outcomes, and then some discussion around next steps. So hopefully that gives you a pretty good feel for what we've done. So if I can just get this to move.

Patten Bridge:

Just to introduce those that that might know that the region, it's interesting from a climate adaptation point of view, this slide shows an area from Wangaratta to Corryong, and then up over the Great Dividing Range. And you can see it's interesting sort of climatologically those blue lines, they represent the rainfall ISO heights.

Patten Bridge:

And you can see they're a little bit old, but you can see there's quite some variation between the Wangaratta [and Modongos 00:13:23] of the world, which are around the sort of six and 700 millimeters of annual rainfall up to the Mountain Beauty's at the top end of the valleys up, up below the mountains, which has a higher rainfall, often above a meter about 1.2 meters of rainfall a year. So if you play that out through the valleys, there's quite a variance in conditions and likely impacts of rainfall, which was one of the more interesting aspects of this project.

Patten Bridge:

So we started off with really, and I'll get to the workshop side, but in a second, but the main thing was really trying to appreciate that our lived experience of climate adaptation is one where we can very clearly see the changes that have occurred looking back without looking forward. Here's a map of the temperature deciles to 2021. And you can see the color coding shows the degree to which the country has got hotter. So looking we can tell a lot. And here at a rainfall, this is a slide that shows average rainfall variations for one of the areas in our region, at the top, and then another Wangaratta, which is `in the lower rainfall zone at the bottom. And you can see very clearly some of the changes that have been occurring over the last 20 to 30 years, where you've got an increased summer rainfall say in Corryong from November through to January and reduced winter spring rainfall say in Wangaratta from July through to October.

Patten Bridge:

So these are the lived areas of the farmers who are in those areas. We also have noticed some significant declines. There's been a 40% reduction in the water that's been flowing into the Murray from this region. This region provides around about 50% of fresh water into the Murray darling basin, so it's an incredibly important as a source. There's already been a 40% decline over the last 20 years. And there's a predictions as we'll see in a second for that to be increased further. So these are very serious issues in relation to potential change for farming in the regions. So lying on top of that, what Patrick talked about, which was the CSIRO project, which was looking at the predictions to 2030, 2050, there were some very clear elements which came out of that, that some areas will actually have higher rainfall at certain times of the year. There's likely to be the potential for increased past production in late spring and summer.

Patten Bridge:

We'll have definitely more days of heat stress, which will impact particularly on dairy cows. There's a chance for earlier hot weather, and that will have impact on certainly pasture and crop production. We've got, as I said before, an increased prediction around the lowering of surface flows, and of course the whole regional that has significant impacts on the regional water balance, whether we're talking about waters flowing into the streams, whether we're talking about groundwaters or even the springs, which are often used for stock in the area. And the whole increased likelihood of extreme, weather events and heat waves, bush fires, et cetera.

Patten Bridge:

So our challenge was to, was to say, "Right, how do we have this conversation with our farmers? And what's the best way?" Knowing that farmers are controlling 50% of the land mass in this area, which is basically the non bush area, knowing how that important that is in relation to managing climate change, what's the conversation we need to be having. So to do that, what we did was, one, developed a work shop forma, which we decided needed to be face to face in a time of COVID so we were pretty keen not to do it online, and we managed to squeeze it in. We held workshops in each of the valleys and at each workshop, the dairy farmer participants who had all received copies of the workbook were taken through a series of firstly, looking back, what do we know about changing climate and, and then looking forward as an introduction.

Patten Bridge:

But then we went through a number of key areas which related to what we thought that might mean for dairy farming. So particularly changing, and I'll just, just to go through those changing rainfall patterns and feed base, increasing number of hot days, hot stretches, water balance, extreme weather, preparedness, health, regulatory concerns, energy, reliability, bushfires, decision making, stream weather preparedness, digital connectivity, social, economic, and the demographic change in our region, process of pressures, building resilience and adaptive capacity and investor pressures. So all of our participants, those four workshops were asked to think about those issues in relation to their farm and what the predictions around the changing climate were expected would mean for them running dairy businesses in the region. And we developed a scale for actually measuring that for it on individual farms. We asked for each of those measures for the participants to measure to what degree their farm was exposed to an impact.

Patten Bridge:

So obviously, a farm that is backing onto the bushes, has got more of a bushfire risk than some than a farm that's in the valley. And then given the predictions around where climate is heading, how would that likely, what would that mean for that, for their business in that particular areas? So by doing that, we were able to actually ask each individual farm to connect with the issues at an objective level in relation to their decisions for what was most important for their farms. We then asked all of our participants to answer where they thought collaborative investment in climate change adaptation would best be made. So if we're, obviously lots of decisions could be made on an individual farm base, but where would you think if we were going to activity to respond to the predictions in relation to climate adaptation, where should collective money be spent? And you can see here from this table, that the answers to those questions varied quite considerably in the Kiwi valley, the Ovens and King Valleys, the Middlevalley and the Upper Murray, and were very much related to the difference in those climate exposures and recent experiences.

Patten Bridge:

For instance the upper Murray crew had just been through relatively serious bushfires, so they weighed heavily on the discussions. But from that, we were able to then draw that together in terms of five areas where we thought there was consensus around the highest priorities, and just going through those, changing rainfall patterns and the impact on feed base, obviously incredibly important for dairy farmers given the extent to which the cost of feed is a major determinate of profitability on dairy farms. And so knowing how to optimize the changes that are happening from a climatological point of view and seeing how that is impacting on feed base is incredibly important. We know the vulnerability of cows in relation to increasing temperature, and therefore the impacts on product fertility in relation to the predicted increase in hot days, I've talked about the whole water balance question and, and farmers making decisions about the security, not only the security of their water, but the potential for changing their water management practices because of the water balance in the region.

Patten Bridge:

Extreme weather preparedness, we've seen examples of recently, and how are we both preparing for and coordinating events of that nature? And then most importantly, there was a very strong understanding around the, to maintain social health and wellbeing. And that was seen as very important, particularly we've had issues in relation to mental health, youth suicide, but also just generally networking and supporting the dairy industry, it's got such a wonderful reputation for being able to provide that network of support and how is that standing up in this, in the sort of the current demographic trends? So once we'd identify those five trends, we asked all the farmers and a number of other, I suppose, external stakeholders to come together and talk about that, and what we could potentially do about it.

Patten Bridge:

And so we held a regional workshop which involved the catchment management authority, lending of institutions such as the banks, the processes Dairy Australia spoke. So did people from the local university who've been working, doing the water research, local government state, government dealt, local health providers. We all came together with the idea of listening to what the farmers had said and saying, right, if we were going to do something practical and useful in that space, what might that look like? And from that, for each of those areas, we developed two projects, which we thought were both sensible and realistic, so for instance, on that, I won't go through all of them, but for that first challenge opportunity around changing rainfall patterns and the impact on feed based management, we've got a couple of projects identified this, certainly looking at the impact of the changing rainfall patterns, particularly the opportunity to capture moisture with increased summer rainfalls. How might that impact on the role of say for the crops versus permanent pastures?

Patten Bridge:

What can we learn by the work that's already been done in other parts of North Victoria and in fact, Queensland around the C4 milk and [inaudible 00:25:09] for future programs. What's the impact on that in relation to nutrient management and nutrient management application in relation to those changing feed based management decisions? So there was an area of saying, "Right, oh, that's what we'd like to do if we're going to get a chance to do some work in that feed based management area. The second project that came out of that was around soil health and the whole issues around improving organic matter in soils, ground cover and dry conditions, the impact of low PH, optimizing use of farm affluent. A range of things where we would like to, to focus some specific attention on. What the changing rainfall patterns will mean in relation to those critical issues of soil health. So I just put that up as an example, and so for each of the five themes, we developed two practical projects, which we felt would be able to take us forward.

Patten Bridge:

And then we put that all together in our summary book which has detailed the projects and explained how we've gone about doing all that. And when Patrick said, it was really about asking the questions, I suppose our answer for asking the questions was to say, "How do we listen to our farmers? How do we get them engaged, in communicating what is most important to them in terms of collaborative investment? And then how do we summarize that and put that out in a way that we can actually attract the resources that will allow us to tackle those projects. So I'll just talk a little bit about the next steps and then throw it open to questions. But so we are very aware that in times of type budgets, there's a number of challenges in relation to the 10 projects are identified, but we're also conscious that it doesn't all have to be done at once, that we've got a roadmap now that allows us to, to look at those projects and look for ways of bringing them to, to life over the next five to 10 years.

Patten Bridge:

And already, we've seen some really encouraging signs of support in relation to a number of the projects, which we can talk about in a minute, but obviously utilizing existing recurrent budgets is a, is, is the first strategy. How do we make sure that we're working in as closely with the people who are funded to work in this space, like Murray Dairy, Dairy Australia, local councils, service providers, what's happening with the whole energy transformation in the country. And, and there's, there's existing money up our way at the moment for bushfire recovery. So how do we actually tap into the money that's on the table there that we can actually, I suppose, direct towards what we're saying are the identified areas of priority.

Patten Bridge:

And then there is obviously the opportunity to look for accessing money to set up specific projects. There's a number of projects, the Drought Fund, the Agricultural Sector Pledge are all opportunities where we've started conversations with people who are keen to make sure that that money is used most wisely and keen to make sure that it's connected with where farmers are seeing their priorities. So just wanted to comment on one of the key learnings from the project. And that is that we very clearly identified through those 10 projects that not all those projects are best handled or managed on farm, that we stratified the projects into three areas. Firstly again, the issues that we uncovered in relation to feed based soils, trees on farms, heat management control, water balance, water maps, improving irrigation, decision making, emergency response preparedness, social health and wellbeing and community resilience, they fall in three very different baskets of responsibility.

Patten Bridge:

And the first one is that a lot of those issues are not just dairy issues, they're actually agriculture issues. They affect all of, they really go across all of agriculture in Northeast Victoria and therefore there's opportunities to collaborate across sectoral partners. And also for many of those, there's a community implications, we can place those as more broad, not just dairy, but also inclusive of community. Then some of the projects we're pretty sort of dairy specific and for instance, if we're talking about improving irrigation management locally, that's pretty much a dairy specific project because in relation to the dairy requirements for irrigation. So in those cases are really talking about working through out [inaudible 00:31:04] Valley's dairy with our Dairy Australia link, Murray Dairy and the milk processes, the catchment management authority at Victoria, so that they land in a more dairy specific basket.

Patten Bridge:

And then finally some of these projects really are nationally rather, and not much point trying to resolve them at a local level, we are really looking to have a discussion with peak bodies, like Dairy Australia to look at how that can be shaped and forwarded. So the sorts of things like heat management, how we optimize investment in heat manage infrastructure. It's not just an Northeast issue that's happening right across Australia. Things like risk management, decision making, drought preparedness, again, that's a very national nationally relevant issue. And so they're the places where we think should most effectively land.

Patten Bridge:

So, yeah, so that's probably enough just as a bit of an outline. I'm very happy to take questions, but from our point of view, I think just in summarizing that Patrick, I think we feel a lot more solid in our understanding of now where we need to be putting our efforts in relation to collaborative investment, in adapting to the predictions for change in climate in the Northeast. And we feel the project has given us a strong handle that is not only gives us good direction, but we know has the energy and support of our farming communities very solidly behind it. So that's probably enough for me at this stage.

Graeme Anderson:

Fantastic. Thank you, Patten and congrats, Patten Patrick and Lachlan, great process you've run through there. And I think the stroke of genius too, with the workbook originally Patten, and that processes, there are a number of steps that you've gone through here, which has been terrific. Now what we've got, everyone is just a bit of a panel question time and we got Patten and Patrick, and we've got, Lachlan, you've joined us Lachlan. Hopefully he can unmute. So if you have any questions for the team here, please sing out. I've got a couple of questions that have prepared a bit earlier and going to throw. Patrick. Just one question was, at this point, what are the key things you've learned so far on the journey or only penny drop moments for you Patrick?

Patrick Glass:

One of the penny drop moments along the path I think Graeme was in the construction of the project. Sending the workbook, posting, physically printing and posting it to all dairy farmers in Northeast Victoria. So they had time to read and give thought to the questions. They didn't just come to the workshops cold Turkey, and get the questions popping from in front of them. I thought that gave it some real strength and integrity. And the other thing that I've learned about it is that it has given us real integrity in what we ask industry and other bodies to fund. We can say, :This is genuinely what the dairy farmers of the Alpine valleys want answers to. This hasn't been made up by a bureaucrat sitting in an office somewhere. These are genuine quick questions. And I think that's given us real integrity and gained us a lot of traction and started many conversations, which I think will benefit our farmers going forward.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah, that's, that's terrific Patrick. Yeah. And I agree, I think what was a unique bit of work there that Patten did with the workbook, because it asks a very personal question for each farmer who got that, it converted the climate change language into what does this sort of thing mean for you? And so it triggered off that everyone had to just think about it a bit, about what does it mean for us and which bits can we solve ourselves versus which bits we need others to chip into. So that's great. How about you Patten, any sort of key learnings for you on this process?

Patten Bridge:

I think the, or maybe just a reminder of what we know already Graeme, so the project could not have developed as I think as fully without the face to face workshops with the farmers because it was in fact, the shared conversations amongst the farmers that really brought out all the gems that needed to be said. And it was as much as about learning different farmer's perceptions of what was happening on their own place, sharing that, there was that was that knowledge sharing. I think that was so critical. So we're in discussions at the moment with Dairy Australia around, wanting to put some of this material online and whatever, and that's all good, but I just am reminded every time, you get farmers in a room talking to each other, those opportunities for genuine learning are so much richer, and you wouldn't want to see dropped off.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah, No, that's fantastic. Yeah. Now I think Lachlan just trying to get in by phone. So we'll keep going. The next, Patrick, from your point of view, what are some of the next steps you'd like to see flow from here do you think the next couple of years?

Patrick Glass:

It's about finding our collective partners, collaborative partners that we can use to, to answer these questions with integrity. Yep. And that's what we're working through at the moment like Patten and I have dinner with the Dairy Australia board tonight, there's all those type of things going on in the background. And I'm very confident saying these questions are relevant to a broad range of dairy farmers across Australia, that we will get support from many parties to help us answer these questions. We're going to need some funding. Like Patten's a consultant with another life other than volunteering trail pine valleys dairy.I'm a semi retired dairy farmer, but I haven't got the time to drive it. So we are going to need some funding help to preferably a paid person that's accountable to us or somebody else to help try and find these questions.

Patrick Glass:

And we're trying to do it without starting a whole lot more silos. There's enough silos, but funding's dropping in the top and not a lot coming out the bottom. So want to try and find the ones that can help us. And I see, while I'm talking, I see a question from Jillian there about, were we happy with the farmer engagement? Jillian, we had about 30%. I think, Patten wasn't it, of the farmers actually filled out the workbook. And the other strength of the project is due to our geographical location with the valleys and travel times. We had four workshops for farmers, one at Miller wall, one wangaratta, one at [inaudible 00:38:55] , and one in the Upper Murray. So we had a workshop in each geographical, River Valley, and I think that made it easier for farmers to participate.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah, that's great, Patrick, and I think you hit it on the head there too, just about that there's a bit of work there and coordinating and getting the individual farmers to participate and the workbook and extracting that out, but then collating it all again to see what does everyone's individual views? How does that collate for each valley? That's been a pretty significant process. And as you're saying now that that's sort of on paper, that sort is a great foundation to go and then seek sort of support for different parts of the project like that. That's why I think there's often a lot of support or concern around climate change or adaptation, but often people aren't clear on what is it you want done. And so I think you hear you've broken some new ground to help do that from the ground up. Patten, did you have any comments there on the next steps?

Patten Bridge:

Look, just before I get to the next steps bit, I just want to add one other thing, Graeme, that we were really happy with from an engagement point of view, and that was the participation with some of the younger dairy farmers in the region. So we found that there was probably a higher proportion of younger farmers involved in the overall workshops, which really sort of changed the nature of that discussion because obviously the investments that we are making on farm are significantly, long-term impacts of long term. And, and, and you can see why the younger generation are pretty keen to get their head around what that might mean. But also there's some real energy and strength there in those younger voices. So that was great. That was a really great outcome.

Patten Bridge:

Just in relation to the next steps. I'll just make one other comment. I mentioned the regional workshop that we held and how that had participants, that involved the banks and the catchment management authority and the various different government departments, local government, whatever, every one of those different groups have got their own climate adaption, adaptation, mitigation strategy as part of their purpose and reason for being. So they're all sort of keen to get runs on the board and they're all doing it differently. And I suppose going back to Patrick's point, one of our key things was we don't want farmers to have to be responding to 20 or 30 different, groups, all wanting to do something, we'd much rather that be seen as a collective for synergistic effort where people can really get together and support what farmers are seeing as important.

Patten Bridge:

And hopefully that will tick as many of those individual organization boxes as possible. Because without that, we'd, we are just going to be all involved in so many projects and burn up so many sources. We just want to make sure that we are doing that as, as synergistically and collaboratively as possible.

Graeme Anderson:

Yep. No, that's right. That's a great point. And also seeing the benefit of actually projects being followed up, and some of these questions answered which you've laid the foundation for. And I think the credit to everyone, there'll be another question, but I'll probably just hold for a minute, because I'm going to ask you about any advice you might give to other agriculture projects out there trying to develop up a grassroots adaptation. So we'll get you that at the end. I think Heather, we might just grab a few of the questions that are coming in. So if anyone's got other questions, please just pop them into with the chat. But one from Maria just saying, "Was it easy to get farmers to engage? Were the representative group for the farmers in the region?" I really like this approach of finding the gaps. So how did you go there? Cause some, some people do say that not all farmers want to engage on climate change. So how did you go there Patrick and Patten? What was your observation about engagement when you're talking about this topic of adaptation?

Patten Bridge:

Oh sorry. To me it was like ,oh, oh, feeding pastures for profit. Some farmers take it and run with it and get engaged and it benefits their business, others choose not to, but in the conversations we had, as Patten said before, I was really excited by the young people. They they're going to be the people in charge of their businesses in 2050. And at the workshops, the roll up of the younger farmers out of the Alpine Valleys, it would've been a really high percentage, which I thought was really, really good.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah. Fantastic. Yeah. And so 30% foe that workbooks that's, that's a terrific strike rate.

Patten Bridge:

The, I think the other point that it's just worth picking up their crime was that we were just very much away from the politics of climate change. And Patrick and I were involved in that work that the catchment management had done previously. And when you're sitting around in a room and you've got cherry growers and beef growers and crops and foresters and whatever, the politics just doesn't come into it, the reality is that those people are seeing changes in their day to day businesses and their day to and management practices. So that was what we didn't have climate change as such in the title. It was about climate futures. We talked about adaptation and we we're saying, "Look, Hey, there are some positives that can be built into this. This is not all doom and gloom. This is about understanding what's going on from a very clear eyed point of view. What have we experienced? What's that telling us about the future, then how do we actually make some very positive decisions around reducing our threats and optimizing our opportunities with those decisions?"

Graeme Anderson:

Terrific. Thank you Patten. Another question from Maria Beatriz. Hi, thank you for the wonderful presentation. I have a question. Are all the predictions based on the [inaudible 00:45:45] projections and did the model employer time series analysis for climate increased variation and pasture growth rate for the weather events? I just probably popped that in as a part of the background to the project that the Victorian climate change projections 2019 were done by the, so in terms of the climate change projections, but this project did engage Craig Beverly in the AGV team and spatial vision. And there was a lot of modeling to tease out some of those potential implications on things like pastures or crops or nuts or a number of hot days. And that was a key bit in the early part of the project where farmers and producers were asking those different groups, what are the thresholds that matter to your industry.

Graeme Anderson:

And then that went back to tease out, well, how might some of these thresholds change? So I think that was right at the beginning, helped buying some of that in engagement, so good design in the project. There's another question there, just in terms of overall supply, just from Greg, supply chain, do you sense processes would see similar challenges in terms of order supply, extreme weather events, et cetera. So Patrick or Patten, any thoughts about from a process or point of view and I guess further along the supply chain in terms of how some of these potential climate impacts might play out in coming decades? Any thoughts there?

Patrick Glass:

Yes. Graeme, I think they will, but that once again, that is not unique to the Alpine Valleys. Yes. Sadly we have very little processing of dairy products in the Alpine Valleys. So that challenge is a national challenge and the declining milk flow at the moment is... What's that compounding that challenge for the processes?

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah. Yeah.

Patten Bridge:

Yep. I suppose we were also just going back to that previous question as well Graeme, this wasn't really about whether it was all on CSIRO projection, so at the start of the project, I really did a pretty broad literature review around a broader implications of climate change, which weren't just biophysical, but also what would that mean for markets? What might might that mean for health? What might that mean for issues of consumers and consumer preferences? So we actually, when that landed in the workshops, that was very much canvased as well, much broader. So the, I think one of the problems with the discussion around climate changes is it becomes so multifaceted and so you got a whole heap of rabbit holes. You can, you can run down. So part of the challenge of the project was to distill all that into some bite size chunks that were able to feed the conversations and the questions from the farmers.

Patten Bridge:

So certainly wasn't, I suppose to answer the Maria's question earlier, it wasn't just CSIRO, it was a much broader bank of information that we were putting in front of the farmers for discussion.

Graeme Anderson:

Yep. Yeah, no, that's great. Now it is big. I think part of it too, with those local workshops and it's understanding recent trends and things that people have observed, because it helps with the here and now isn't it, that's always part of it. The here and now versus trying to look a decade or two or three decades ahead. But no, that's terrific. Now we've got Kevin Hennessy, good day Kevin, one of Australia's leading climates. He's asked a great question here during the workshops, did farmers consider the need for incremental and transformational adaptation by 2050 due to hotter and dry conditions? So transformational options might include diversifying into other types of agriculture.

Graeme Anderson:

So I guess that's a question sometimes that pops up that sometimes when we're talking about future climates, we focus on the things we can tweak now, but did you have any discussions Patrick, or Patten just about, any sort of potential changes that would make it very hard, to just continue with the current business? Or is there a big system change needed that that is, that would make it more climate robust? Did any of that come up in conversations such as they, some of the pasture stuff through to the shaded stuff? I know it's an active discussion in dairy, any comment?

Patrick Glass:

All of the above Graeme and Kevin, dairy farmers, we're different than long term crops, i.e fruit growers, et cetera. We have a much more nimble business in that we can be growing pasture and then in two years time, we can have a cropping system. You understand? We are much more nimble. We haven't changed our business here over the last 20 years. During the 2000s, we grew nearly all annual pasture. Now we're starting to get more summer rains. We've developed many perennial pasture pads on the flats that are now persisting. So dairy farming we're always evolving throughout the workshops. Explored change in the genetic base, predominantly black and white Holsteins because they've been the most productive, but will they be in the future? All these type of things, what works all the time. I would say yes, that the incremental and transformational adaption, it was explored and discussed throughout the workshops.

Graeme Anderson:

Yep. Thanks Patrick. Yeah, okay. Patten, anything to add?

Patten Bridge:

Look, because we're in a relatively high rainfall zone and the predictions are that there will be some changes. That's not going to turn its turn on its head, we would see this as being one of the more secure rainful zones for Australia. And unlike our further down downstream, where obviously the pressures of those declining water flows are having significant implications on access and pricing for water in the irrigation, in the Northern irrigation area. So we are probably not facing such a significant transformational change pressure as some of those dairy farms in the irrigation area, but definitely all farmers are, are changing and some of the major decisions are, for instance, the investment in infrastructure in relation to rising temperatures, is seeing some major investments up this way.

Patten Bridge:

And there will be some areas in the Northeast, which have been able to hang in in relation to dairy, which will be under more pressure as because, for instance, those zones closer to wangaratta [inaudible 00:53:09] we'll, we'll definitely see higher pressure to stay in dairy in the future. So I think as Patrick said, all the above those discussions were very wide ranging across the four valleys. And I think it's in everybody's mind, the likely continuing profitability of dairy and the options that they have in relation to change if required.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah, that's right. It's always a key thing. I think isn't it. And that profitability is a key thing for adaptation. You've actually got to be growing something that the market's paying you well for that actually gives you the finance to be able to invest in those longer term investments. So that's terrific. There's one another question here, John Marriot, now John, how do you source info for health and resilience for personal community? Just any observations there on that one, either Patrick or Patten?

Patten Bridge:

So whilst we were conducting this workshop, it was shortly after the Upper Murray fires, and there was a, still a fair bit of angst and stress really amongst the situation, many of the farmers found themselves and their families in during that phase. And that caused a great deal of angst, but not just in the upper Murray, right across the whole issues in relation to the changing nature of rural communities and, I suppose, some of the challenges of having less people around us to provide the volunteer and network support that traditionally we've relied on was raised at all the workshops. And so there's some fundamental changes there which we know we need to get our heads around and probably find ways of dealing with things which aren't just the same as how we've done them before, because we're not going to wind the clock back.

Patten Bridge:

So, in fact, that's one of the key areas that we'd really like to focus on and, and knowing that what's right, in terms of a, I suppose, a constructive solution in one community is not necessarily going to be translatable to another. So we are really got our thinking caps on at the moment about how we might go through a process of responding to that clear identified need of providing support to make sure that our social health and wellbeing in our dairy communities is still supported.

Graeme Anderson:

That's right. Yep. No, it's all about people. Isn't it. So now I'm going to just probably ask you a final question now, Patrick, for anywhere else around the country, if some people are wanting to set up an adaptation or climate change investigation or project, what advice would you give them based on what you've learned with your process up there?

Patrick Glass:

Listen, listen to the producers, listen to those that are going to be impacted by it. And when I say, listen, I mean, truly listen and hear what they're saying.

Graeme Anderson:

Yep. Fantastic. Just get out and talk and start one to one and to build it up from there, which has been what's so terrific about what you've done up there. So, well done, great leadership to bring that together. Hey, Patten, any advice for others?

Patten Bridge:

Look, I think most of what we did has been relatively well documented entered Graeme. And so if people wanted to have a chance to have a look at either the workbook or the summary recommendations book, they would be available in online format. I'm not exactly sure where, or how maybe, maybe you guys can help with that, but we would be, we'd be more than happy to share that as part of just our experience. And then of course taking phone calls or, being involved in, if anybody wants to directly contact us, then we have got a shared interest in making sure that it's many people are on this path as we are, because that's what's going to get the resources that allow us all to move forward. So, yeah, really, it's a bit of an open arms approach here, and don't be shy in asking questions and we'll support where we can.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah, no, that's fantastic. Happy to promote it. And we will, I think, have a look track down at where the workbook is, and also the report just so that, that perhaps goes out with the recording. Now is Lachlan there? Oh, sorry, Patrick, go ahead.

Patrick Glass:

I'm just going to say, Dairy Australia did seek permission to make it into an online format. Now what they've done with that and how effective that'll be. I'm very doubtful because of the conversations that were the strength of it and the listening, but the workbook on that could be on the various Australia website somewhere.

Graeme Anderson:

Yep. No worries. We'll track that down. I just thought it was a great bit of work to help it frame it from the farmer's point of view, rather than talking about it in climate language. So that was the key about face that happened. So we'll track that down. Thanks, Patrick. Is Lachlan online?

Heather Field:

No, no. Unfortunately he did try and he's an apology, but yeah, we did try and get Lachlan in, but if he, anyone does want to catch up with Lachlan, yeah, please just shoot me an email and we'll make contact with him.

Graeme Anderson:

Yeah. Thank you. No. Lachlan of course, you've done a great job leading that and coordinating the project with the Northeast CMA. So all of this wouldn't have happened if you hadn't have pulled all of the friends together, but thanks so much, Patten and Patrick for talking us through that great work you've done. I know there's a lot of work and it all happened over the last 18 months, but it's just really nice that, and we appreciate you taking the time to share. And thanks Heather for organizing all of this. Have we anything, we've missed any questions or?

Heather Field:

Anything? No, no. I've just checked the questions and we've got some good feedback in there. So appreciate those extra comments from those who are participating today, we did actually have a 100, about 120 registers. So there's definitely a lot of interest in the project and the topic in general. So that's great. And we've had about 70 tune in live and no doubt, a few will watch the recording, so I will close it out and yeah, just want to thank our two presenters and Graeme for that great panel discussion and for all those questions that have come in, it's been a really good session and a great overview of the climate futures for dairy in Northeast Victoria project.

Heather Field:

So I just want to also remind everyone that there is a short survey that will pop up on your screen. So please, when you close out of today, so just please, yeah, spare a minute and just complete that, because that does help a design our webinars and what you are interested in. And everyone who did register today will receive a copy of today's recording. So look out for that in your inbox. And we are at one o'clock so I will close out there and, and thank thank you for participating today, and thanks to our presenters.

Graeme Anderson:

Thanks Heather. Nice day.

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Page last updated: 11 Aug 2022