COVID an opportunity for ag to reposition

View From the Paddock: COVID an opportunity for ag to reposition

OPINION
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Brigid Price, Rural Resources. Picture - Mandy McKeesick.

Brigid Price, Rural Resources. Picture - Mandy McKeesick.

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Agriculture accounts for 3 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product, with a gross farm gate value estimated at $60 billion at last count. So why did mainstream Australia panic buy when COVID-19 hit the country?

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Agriculture accounts for 3 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product, with a gross farm gate value estimated at $60 billion at last count. So why did mainstream Australia panic buy when COVID-19 hit the country?

As Australian farmers, along with other essential workers, kept the country functioning, the negative attacks on farming practices and environmental credentials stopped. But this is only a reprieve, not a permanent situation.

Along with a social licence to operate, Australian farmers have a social responsibility to inform the wider community about our practices.

It's one thing to have a seat at the table, but we must ensure our voice is heard. It isn't just up to our industry leaders to work on our image, it's up to us all.

The Aussie battler stereotype helps charities receive important funding for those experiencing financial hardship. But it seems this is the overwhelming image our city friends picture when they think of a farmer.

What can we offer as an alternative image, and how can we make sure it's well received?

Post COVID-19, the bush will compete with an increased percentage of city residents requiring government assistance and we can expect more scrutiny on how we prove our business management credentials.

Throughout history, those who adapt thrive. As the curve flattens, the scrutiny will return and we will be expected to adjust to evolving expectations.

Every small business should have a business plan, be able to interpret their financial statements and operate with a vision for the future that is understood and documented.

How often do individual agricultural businesses reflect, review and revamp their practices?

We seem to talk more about weight gain and yield than we do about performance measures that demonstrate a viable long-term outlook.

If you can't guarantee the foundations of your business are sound, then how will you plan for your families' future and reassure consumers their food is safe and plentiful?

Primary producers have always been adaptive and innovative in the paddock; now we need to adopt a modern business approach to our marketing that is backed up by proof.

As the world pauses to focus on what is really important, there is an opportunity for agriculture to reposition itself.

- Brigid Price, Rural Resources

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