Like many of you, I grew up up in a world when Australian agriculture was seen as the "hero". Hard working families doing risky, backbreaking, and often unforgiving work, adding to the wealth of our country's economy, and helping feed and clothe the world.
City and country folk together appreciated, valued and supported farmers.
But maybe you've noticed, ever so slowly the narrative has shifted and it seems to me that agriculture is increasingly being portrayed not as the hero, but as the villain.
I've started wondering more and more, "why is that?"
Is it that more and more city folk have become so far removed from where their food comes from that they've lost practical perspective on how delicate and tenuous our supply chains are?
Or that it's been so long since much of the population has experienced real, genuine hunger or dire money pressures? Maybe.
It seems to me that enough mud has been thrown by powerful and politically influential activist types, that it's beginning to stick.
Anyone who uses fertiliser, herbicides, raises livestock, uses fossil fuels or clears ANY vegetation, is considered bad, very bad, and should be shut down at any cost.
More politicians trying to seem relevant to the younger and more city-based environmentally conscious voters, as well having to share power with the 'activist type' politicians, have jumped on the bandwagon and are increasingly implementing poorly thought-out legislation, with scant apparent regard for the unintended consequences. And we've all clearly seen with the unfathomable mess our energy sector is in, what happens when the sole concern is for intentions rather than outcomes.
A laser like focus focus is now on the environmental aspects of the industry, with little to no consideration of the fact that agriculture has a hugely positive social impact on the world and is a valuable tool for solving many environmental problems.
Aside from just feeding us, Aussie ag is is a world leader with best practices in animal welfare, strong biosecurity, safe food quality, improvements in fertiliser efficiency, a significant regenerative agriculture movement and employment of workers. These and the sheer amount of land available for soil carbon sequestration makes it an invaluable environmental and social resource.
Many are trying to share this message, but it seems to be getting drowned out.
The price of failing to take control of the narrative is high. Have a gander at what's happening in places like Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands and Sri Lanka. I believe that is our 'canary in the coal mine'.
If you are sceptical, I get it - I was at first, too. You might think, "Surely here we wouldn't be stupid enough to bite the hand that feeds us, would we?".
Can we trust that the people in power will think practically like rural producers do? I doubt it because common sense seems to be a resource that is in short supply.
In my mind agricultural producers are too busy being useful and often far too bloody polite to speak out. But if those with an axe to grind with ag are allowed to keep throwing mud unchallenged, this story will end with agriculture becoming the easy political scapegoat. Just like our troubled energy system, seen as the problem, not the solution.
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