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I Give A Crop!

I GIVE A CROP!

ISSUE 5 | FARMING

Have we lost sight of sustainability and become deeply estranged with the farming industry as a whole? #IGiveACrop

STORY BY:

SAM COUTTS

PHOTOGRAPHY BY:

INSIGHT CREATIVE

DESIGN & LAYOUT BY:

VERVE DESIGN

<img src=”http://confettimag.com.au/img/flags_anim_alt.gif” />
It’s the farmer not the consumer, nor the chef nor the supermarket but the FARMER that makes food possible. But as a generation of eaters (takers) and an ageing generation of producers (givers) have we lost sight of sustainability and become deeply estranged with the farming industry as a whole?

We picture red roofed homesteads with smiling larrikin-farmers looking out over their green green crops. But how far is that from the truth? In a country so severely dismayed by drought and a younger generation dis-interested with agriculture, who will be the farmers of the future?

The farming profession is an isolated one. The big boss isn’t someone you can speak to via an HR department but instead the biggest boss you face is Mother Nature, and there just ‘aint no changing her mind. She is unpredictable and uncontrollable and can discourage even the toughest of farmers. 


Over the last two years we have seen drought take a firm hold over farms all over Australia. And while the $320 million drought assistance package the government has rolled out will make some needed progress, where was it two years ago, and why isn’t it more of a regular thing?

I don’t know whether its because farms are quite literally out of reach for the majority of urbanite populations, but there is a huge gap between producer and consumer. And to bridge that gap it’s time we all gave a crop!



Realising I shamefully knew few people in the farming industry I spoke with a friend’s Auntie; Glenda Kirkwood who is a Brahman bull and commercial cattle breeder in Far North Queensland, to get a better perspective of farming here in Australia.

When I asked Glenda what she would want to say to someone who lives in the city, she immediately reacted with a cry of “ohhhh, really, ideally if they could come out here and see it for themselves, because a lot of people think that when you own land and have cattle that you’re a multi-millionaire and that’s just not the case, I really fear for the younger generations.” 


Her Somerview estate has been drought stricken for years now and as she recounts the situation of the industry I couldn’t understand why this isn’t more of an important issue in Australian news. After speaking with me, Glenda had to take her jumper off as she was “roasting” with frustrations over the cattle industry and farming in general.

She spoke of her and husband Brian’s relationship with the land as owning them. “It’s all we know, we can do nothing else because we know nothing else. You don’t own the land, it owns you.”

How can we put such pressure on those who have been so harshly mistreated by the weather? Glenda made a good point when she said, “You don’t mind failing when it’s your fault, but when it’s drought and the market taking it away from you it makes it quite hard.” Australians need to start giving a crop, farming is our most primary of industries. So why is it not our first priority?

A new study by Marc Oostdijk, of Rabobank Australia and New Zealand showed a “Concerning knowledge gap” among Australian youth when it came to food production and agriculture. He said, “The very limited exposure many young people in Australian cities have to farming and where their food and agricultural produce comes from was clearly identified in this research, with the survey showing two-thirds of city teenagers have had very limited direct farm access, and some none at all,”

She spoke of her and her husband Brian’s relationship with the land as owning them. “Its all we know, we can do nothing else because we know nothing else. You don’t own land it owns you.”

How can we put such pressure on those who have been so harshly mistreated by the weather? Glenda made a good point when she said, “You don’t mind failing when it’s your fault, but when it’s drought and the market taking it away from you it makes it quite hard.” Australians need to start giving a crop, farming is our most Primary of industries, so why is it not our first priority.

A new study made by Marc Oostdijk, of Rabobank Australia and New Zealand showed a “Concerning knowledge gap” among Australian youth when it came to food production and agriculture. He said, “The very limited exposure many young people in Australian cities have to farming and where their food and agricultural produce comes from was clearly identified in this research, with the survey showing two-thirds of city teenagers have had very limited direct farm access, and some none at all,”

It’s my opinion that when a young adult graduates from high school they should be able to cook 6 meals from scratch and one where they have sourced ingredients from a farm and or visited a farm of some kind to understand where breakfast lunch and dinner comes from. From a young age we need to ingrain a deeper respect for food and the people who make it possible. We need to walk in their shoes, and bridge this bizarre gap of farm-life mystery.

I myself can relate to this ignorance. Throughout my life I have been so sheltered in the city with little exposure to farm life other than my pops backyard vegetables and my second cousins cotton farm. I too am a product of a generation mystified by the farm, as I have no hands on experience. The study showed we see farming and agriculture as such an important part of Australia, so it seems farmers might need some better Public Relations and maybe an event coordinator or two. Ridiculous?

As someone who only recently moved out of home it is hard to keep the big-picture of farmers-worth steadily etched into my thinking process. Especially when I can get Mexican onions for 99 cents a kilo, milk for $1 a litre and minced beef for $5 a kilo. The gap between the farmer and myself can be lost so easily in a supermarket because they’ve made it about shopping for the best deal, and not about supporting Australian farmers.

But when I heard that in the last two years there have been 16 drought-linked suicides it changed shopping for food entirely.

Farming is known to be a fulfilling job, but there is little incentive for younger generations to take it on, especially when we see how bad it has to get before held is given. Legality, red tape and pre-requisites can be infuriating at the best of times, let alone when you have a paddock of starving cattle and a family to keep happy and fed.

Sixty-one percent of Australia’s land mass is controlled by farmers and over 135,000 farms. I asked a young agriculture student at James Cook University what incentive there was for young farmers, he said there wasn’t one, but that he liked the idea of sustainability. It seems this passion is the only driving force for farming in the modern era. So maybe there needs to be some kind of reward to encourage this kind of forward thinking?

Australian farmers make food local and that is the best kind of future investment. Its time the government put their money into an entire industry, and one that produces something non-depreciable like cars, or materialistic like clothing brands, or even icons and broadband networks. We need to go back to basics. Back the first job any human ever did. Farming, feeding, producing, we need to make farmers the celebrities and heroes, because they’ve been feeding us for too long and its time for us to feed them back.

Shop local, and try your best to shake the hand that feeds you.

Visit these websites to give back: http://www.buyabale.com.au/ http://www.greatoutbackbbq.com.au/