Athletes from Australia and all over the world are taking their mark on the track and field and diving into the pool at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. As Australian spectators cheer on our sporting stars, they should pause for a moment and consider our farmers who are quietly kicking goals.
Global food systems are expected to deliver on a daunting triple challenge: providing food security and nutrition, providing incomes to more than 500 million farmers and others in the food supply chain, and do so sustainably. Primary producers work in hectares, in winter's chill or summer's heat, in drought or flooding rains. Because of their dedication and resilience, agriculture touches the lives of all Australians, and we enjoy the fruits of their many labours through the food we eat, the natural fibres we wear, the amenity that surrounds us and the economic prosperity that follows.
Queensland's farmers grow the broadest selection of fresh produce that has fuelled our athletes during their years of training and will feed our spectators as they cheer them home. Where clothing is concerned, Queensland cotton farmers yield three times the world average, producing more 'crop per drop' for those green and gold uniforms, while our lifestyle horticulture farmers are responsible for the first-class playing fields and sports grounds.
Agriculture has always had an innovative culture, with digital technologies including the Internet of Things (IoT), robotic technologies, autonomous vehicles and drones are already transforming the sector. Farmers are continuing to embrace efficiency opportunities to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, all while performing to the high bar their industry best management practices set to better care for the land they steward.
Unlike the Olympics Games, however, this happens on an uneven playing field. Our farmers manage all this against a backdrop of the lowest level of government subsidies in the world, high input costs, burdensome policy and regulations, and a changing climate. Despite these challenges, our farmers are a shining example of the calibre of talent in the agriculture sector and deserve their own medals.