Australian agriculture is now at a crossroad. Here in Queensland, agriculture has been battered from pillar to post by a state Labor government. It would seem at this stage that agriculture has dodged a very large bullet federally, given the election results.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as part of his election campaign strategy, called on those quiet Australians to come forward and state their position via the polling booths and it has worked effectively.
Australian agriculture needs to take the blueprint of that strategy and call on the producer base across all sectors of agriculture to do the same.
It is imperative that over the term of this new government we as an industry position ourselves to take advantage of a federal government that has projected some degree empathy towards the importance of agriculture as a major contributor to Australia's economy, as well as a cornerstone of the regional and rural Australian landscape.
Agricultural advocacy has to find a backbone that has the want and will to bring balance, sanity, and confidence back to the agricultural landscape.
The understanding of the importance of agriculture, and the views of agriculture by the wider community, including politicians, are poles apart. It has to change.
The shift in social and political ideology has put agricultural at a severe disadvantage both from a production and marketing perspective. This raises many questions.
From where I sit looking across the paddock, the clouds of frustration and angst are very prevalent across the cattle industry in relation to live export, ongoing veg management regulations, and minority groups meddling in industry issues.
These same clouds are just as prevalent in relation to regulatory processes and the costs associated with them and that's not counting the cost of lost production as a direct result of this.
The alarming sentiment in regard to all of this is that agriculture is its own worst enemy.
The lethargic approach to advocacy and the disinterest of all sectors of agriculture as how to be a formidable cohesive structure to protect and preserve the time honoured approach to land and livestock management practices.
As the pressure of topics such as climate change, barrier reef protection, animal welfare, and vegetation management come to bear, it would seem blatantly obvious that agricultural advocacy needs to lift its game considerably.
We know that the judicial system is not giving the level of deterrent in penalties to perpetrators against our industry.
We know that the climate change debate is not going away.
These are two of the issues where advocacy must get stronger and louder, voicing opposition to governments bowing to minority pressure.
The strength and future of agriculture lies with those quiet Australians who choose to be part of a great industry and that industry needs your support and guidance right now to take advantage of the recent election.
- Barry Hughes, Gulf Cattleman's Association