Citrus Australia has developed this policy considering the Federal and State governments policies on climate change and to identify risks to industry, including the effects of changing climate and climate variability. Government policy in the past has impacted the agriculture sector severely and without appropriate measures to offset or minimise those impacts.
- Australian governments making legislative change to meet internationally agreed emissions targets must not impact farmers disproportionately.
- Australian governments must recognise the stewardship of land unique to a farmer’s role in the community and rural economies and leverage that position in a positive way for environmental outcomes and rural economies.
- Industry needs funding for research and development into:
- impacts of variable climate and climate change on the production of citrus
- impacts on market opportunities for Australian citrus varieties
- technologies and innovation that assist industry to adapt to changes in the environment
- effects of changing climate on pest and disease threats, both endemic and exotic that threaten food production
- opportunities for production horticulture, especially perennial trees, to participate in carbon sequestration
Changing climate – adaption through R&D
For many years Australian citrus industry researchers have been aware of impacts on citrus phenology from changing climate. Australia had the first citrus breeding program in the world to recognise climate change as a breeding objective. Impacts on productivity and quality are well established and have already been seen in recent seasons.
Citrus are sensitive to temperature and humidity. Diurnal temperature variation is an important factor in colour development, but many physiological changes in the tree and fruit are dictated by temperature in some way.
Colour development affects the traditional harvest period, causing delays for domestic and export markets. Increased temperature has been shown to negatively impact fruit set, reducing the potential crop and affecting fruit size.
As an example of pest migration, Queensland Fruit Fly a serious pest of most fruit was largely found in Queensland and parts of NSW. There has been an increase in Queensland Fruit Fly detection in southern Australia in the last decade, due in part to warmer winters and more conducive conditions.
Rising temperatures could impact the spread of the exotic pest Asiatic Citrus Psyllid, responsible for spreading Huanglongbing, a devastating disease of citrus, to establish in Australia or other pests such as Glassy Winged Sharp Shooter which spreads Xylella fastidiosa, Australia’s number one exotic plant pest risk.
Horticulture is estimated to be responsible for 1% of Agricultural emissions in Australia. Emissions from agriculture include methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide emissions are reported from the application of urea and lime.
In the year to March 2021, agriculture accounted for 14.9% of Australia’s national inventory.
The citrus industry is a major employer and contributes to a wide range of rural communities nationally. It is the largest fresh produce exporter and supplies over 500,000 tonnes of fruit to the local market as fresh fruit or juice.
It is therefore crucial that the sector is able to take advantage of the social, environmental and economic opportunities presented by a low emissions future and that the citrus industry is not disproportionately affected by emission reduction policy.
The citrus industry exports over 260,000 tonnes per annum. The Australian citrus industry is the highest cost producer in the world, our product must achieve premium prices in export markets to make the industry sustainable. Adding costs to the citrus industry, a low emission industry, when our growers compete with other countries daily will mean our citrus will not be competitive within international markets – policy must recognise these impacts and provide primary producers opportunities to offset costs or efficiently participate in the carbon economy.
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