Take a drive out of Dubbo and don't let the green tinge highlighting the neighbouring paddocks fool you. We're sitting at 40 per cent below our average rainfall for the year as we head into our second consecutive tough winter.
As a farm management consultant, I work with some 200 farmers in NSW's central west region.
For many, this will be a year of reckoning. Stock, water and fodder supplies are running low, meaning farmers are having to further reduce already low stock numbers or purchase costly feed.
The main dam that supplies our town is at 6 per cent. Water restrictions are just around the corner. However, by 2020 that dam could well be empty.
Some areas have had some rain, but for the past three years it's been patchy to say the least.
Last year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned us that every year we delay action on climate the harder it gets to prevent catastrophic climate change.
That sticks with me each day I am out and about, working with farmers.
Our re-elected federal government is yet to take meaningful action on climate change.
Despite this, I am still positive about the future. I believe that farmer experience, leading scientific research and long-term economic benefits will win in the end, and before it's too late.
Dubbo farmers, like farmers across Australia, are adapting and implementing climate solutions, which include regenerative agricultural practices that build carbon storage in soils.
Our farmers take each season on its merits, managing for their kids' kids, not just for the year ahead. Imagine if our politicians did the same.
We need leadership on this issue. Now is the time.
Our students, meanwhile, are making their voices heard on the need for climate action - even out here in Dubbo, one of the most conservative political seats in the country.
When they reach voting age, they'll be an even greater force to be reckoned with.
I have great hope for change. That hope lies with the amazing people I know, and know of, coming together to transition to a low carbon economy.
And banding together to call on government to fast-track and expand the use of climate-smart agricultural techniques as part of wider climate action. Now is the time.
Mark Gardner is a farm management consultant and Farmers for Climate Action supporter
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