DAIRY Australia's new Climate Change Strategy details the organisation's climate commitment, investment intent and priorities across research, development and extension (RD&amp;E) publicly for the first time. The strategy aims to enable a climate-committed Australian dairy industry with dairy farms that are sustainable, productive and resilient through cost-effective and achievable actions. It outlines the critical actions Dairy Australia will implement over the next five years to help dairy farms adapt and build their resilience to climate change impacts on profitability, while contributing to industry-wide sustainability targets. READ MORE: Many farmers are already experiencing the impacts of climate change on a daily basis, and are acting and adjusting the way they farm. Dairy Australia's 2020 Land, Water and Climate Survey of 500 dairy farmers identified that two thirds (65 per cent) of respondents were substantially (43pc) or slightly (22pc) impacted by adverse weather conditions (bushfires, droughts or floods) during the past three years. In response to the recent dry conditions, the majority of dairy farms surveyed needed to implement changes to their business, such as purchasing more fodder, planting more water-efficient crops, milking fewer cows or growing more feed with the same amount of water. Adverse weather conditions have clearly impacted a large proportion of the industry. Dairy Australia has a role to play in supporting farmers in continuing to adapt to current conditions, but also to prepare for future climate change. The Climate Change Strategy brings together a range of related farm programs and investments that are focused on delivering 'future proofing' innovation to dairy farmers. It is built around four pillars - adapt, preserve, embed and invest. Its goals are to: Adapt Dairy farmers have already seen the impacts of climate change on their business and many businesses are making changes that are assisting them to adapt to short-term climate variability and long-term climate change. Adaptation to climate challenges can come in many forms. The first step to widespread adaptation is to increase understanding of the potential impacts and then proactively identify strategies for dealing with these impacts within each business's unique operating context. Dairy Australia's active projects in this area include the DairyFeedbase - Feeding Cool Cows project, which investigates concentrates and food additives for their potential to the negative impact on cows of hot weather. Preserve There is an opportunity for the dairy industry - and the wider livestock sector of which it is a part - to demonstrate its track record in addressing climate change and promote its commitments to being part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on-farm. Many technical options to reduce emissions exist, including feed supplements and feed management, grazing land and manure management, health management and improved animal husbandry practices. The first step towards reducing emissions is understanding the source of emissions on-farm and then highlighting the most effective options for reducing them. Dairy Australia has a number of active projects in this area, including the DairyBase Carbon Calculator tool. Embed Australian dairy farmers have always made improvements in how they manage soil, water, fertiliser and biodiversity. More farmers now soil test and use nutrient management plans. They have also fenced off more waterways to protect them from stock and revegetated areas to increase farm biodiversity. These changes have been facilitated by partnerships between farmers, Dairy Australia, milk processors and regional bodies. There is increasing consumer, financial and market pressure for linking natural resource management with climate risk. This work program aims to enhance access to markets and capital for Australian dairy farmers through increased uptake of Australian dairy industry environmental tools and programs that meet the needs of key stakeholders. This requires consideration of the impact of climate change on natural resources over time. Among the active projects relating to this pillar is the three-year research project Dairy High 2 - Optimising Nitrogen Use in Dairy. Invest The management of climate change and climate risk has been a consideration in many of Dairy Australia's programs for some time. However, there is now a clear case for a renewed and co-ordinated approach across the industry requiring resources, focus and partnerships. To ensure the Australian dairy industry has the ongoing skills, flexibility and options in place for managing the continuing evolution of the impacts of climate change and to actively contribute to ambitious global targets, Dairy Australia needs to drive and leverage wider public and private investment in research, development and extension. Current projects include the Dairy Matters consumer marketing campaign, which provides transparent information on health, animal welfare and the environment to order to drive trust in the industry, farmers, and products. Dairy Australia's climate and energy lead Alison Kelly said the strategy had been developed with input from internal and external experts, including dairy farmers and industry bodies, who are already seeing and responding to the pressures of climate change. "The strategy prioritises our RD&amp;E efforts across climate change adaptation, linking climate action with environmental stewardship and solutions for addressing emissions," she said. "It aligns with the goals of the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework, including a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions intensity across the dairy industry by 30pc by 2030. This target has the support of the whole dairy supply chain, who will be critical partners investing in solutions for dairy farmers." Dairy Australia managing director David Nation said the launch of the strategy was an important step for the future of Australia's dairy industry. "The strategy recognises that responding to climate change is one of our highest priorities, that farmers are experiencing impacts of climate now and that experts are saying these challenges will only increase," he said. "The strategy is about enabling a climate-committed Australian dairy industry with cost-effective and achievable actions. It provides a clear vision and pathway towards realising our climate goals and includes success measures for farmers to gauge how they are tracking. "Dairy Australia's role is critical in supporting the dairy industry to respond to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. RD&amp;E investment and programs that help farmers adapt to climate risk and farm profitably and sustainably are integrated across our organisation. We're focused on helping farm businesses become more resilient and thrive in a changing environment. "Consumers and trading partners also want to know that our milk is produced with a low carbon footprint, so awareness of our proactive role in environmental stewardship is also very important and will be a key theme in our industry marketing." Under the strategy, by 2025 the following outcomes will have been met: A range of internal and external reporting measures will be in place to measure progress and success as Dairy Australia works towards delivering these outcomes. Dairy Australia's Climate Change Strategy can be viewed via the website www.dairyaustralia.com.au/climate. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up below to receive our e-newsletter delivered fresh to your email in-box twice a week.