FARMERS had to know where they were going and develop a whole-of-agriculture plan to begin mitigating climate change or risk having the agenda set for them, a gathering of almost 200 people in Orange was told on Tuesday.
At the Farmers for Climate Action 'Risk and Rewards of Farming in a Changing Climate' conference, Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath pulled no punches, saying there were plenty of others with very strong ideas about which direction to go.
He said things were moving fast in the climate change space and it was time for Australian agriculture to explain to the world its planned strategy to mitigate global warming.
He said while simple messages from the likes of the vegan movement 'don't eat red meat and we'll all be okay' carried social media appeal because it was easy for people to take action that made them feel better, they weren't true.
Mr Heath had recently been at a function at which the United Nations special rapporteur Hilal Elver spoke and said the big threat to the climate was agriculture.
"She laid the fault at the foot of agriculture, going back to the 'green revolution'," he said.
There were agricultural representatives pushing their way out the door of the Sydney venue, he said, "leaving behind only the voters", having completely unrealistic arguments fed to them.
Mr Heath said he thought technology was key to agriculture's rapid response.
He said there was great risk in Australian agriculture at the moment, but farmers were good at managing risk.
But useful technologies, or tools, were now being demonised and a new type of risk, institutional risk, had raised its head.
Glysophate and gene editing were essentially banned, or soon would be, across the European Union, he said.
He said gene editing was to a tool to rapidly develop "climate-ready crops" and involved no new genes being introduced to the plant, "it's not genetic modification", he said.
In the global environment "the less people know the more they think they know - Donald Trump is a prime example".
"Yet we can innoculate against misinformation, by providing our own factual information."
Mr Heath said that was why it was critical for a whole-of-agriculture approach to climate change.
"Agricultural production is falling, farm profitability is falling, at the core of our approach must be risk minimisation, to farm profits, to our social capital."
He said capture and storage of carbon and the adoption of renewable energy were a beginning, and the methodology and technology to enable both already existed.
"We need to show continuous improvement and we need a triple bottom line focus."
Mr Heath spoke of the Terraton Initiative, an Indigo Ag bid to remove one trillion tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere and use it to enrich soils.
"They're going to do it, young people won't wait for policy frameworks, they're just going to solve it.
"I remain an optimist, I think there is a real groundswell in agriculture at the moment," he said.