Finding the courage to change

Anika Molesworth at the Murray Muster held at Yarrawonga.

Dairy farmers attending the recent Murray Muster conference heard from a young farmer, an author and a scientist, described as a “thought leader” on climate change, who lives on a farm in western NSW and drives an electric car.

A former Farmer of the Year, Anika Molesworth set the tone for a challenging day when she talked about how the conference had something in common with her story.

She wanted to discuss where she had come from and where the future was headed.

Ms Molesworth was interested in the nexus between planetary health, plants and animals, climate change and ecosystems and how that interacts with people and communities.

Her talk was called ‘Cultivating Climate Courage’.

“We are living in a time when we need to grow courage to overcome the challenges that we face and to tell our stories in a way that is honest, authentic, inspires hope and action,” Ms Molesworth said.

“Although our stories might look different there are commonalities. We are working to solve complex problems.

“We understand the enormity of the challenges and unique obstacles. We are here because we love our land, our communities and our livestock. And we are problem-solvers.

“We believe there is a better way of doing our things.’’

Ms Molesworth invited farmers to embrace courage to change the system, courage to create a just and fair food system, and courage to face the problems.

Describing herself as a farmer and storyteller, she was propelled into advocacy for the environment when her own family farm was facing a crisis.

“A drought is a cruel beast, and it was living through a 10-year drought on my family’s farm that ignited my concern about climate change,” she said.

“From then I wondered, how are we going to feed a rapidly growing global population well, in a climate-challenged world?”

She encouraged her audience to think about a place where they had a deep attachment and she described her own relationship with the land.

She was in awe of the landscape, as a child, learning about respect for the land.

“What a privilege to be a food producer, working with nature,’’ she said.

“Imagine my heartache when I began to question whether that future was possible, because the land I fell in love with, as a child, began to change before my eyes.”

The farmers attending the Murray Muster conference on May 18 and 19 were left with some challenges to consider, not the least being how to introduce environmentally friendly changes on their farm and how to move towards a low carbon future.

One farmer, Margot Henty, commented after the speech that she had completed an audit on her dairy farm and was confronted with a finding of 1200 tonnes of carbon produced annually. She is adopting some measures to try to bring that down.