Bat­tle to jus­tify leaves farm­ers feel­ing weary

Central and North Rural Weekly - - RURAL WEEKLY - ED GAN­NON

AD­DRESS­ING the dis­con­nect be­tween farm­ers and their con­sumers, mostly in the city, is not a new phe­nom­e­non.

But con­stantly jus­ti­fy­ing what farm­ers do, and try­ing to safe­guard the right to do it, is a grow­ing trend farm­ers are hav­ing to learn to swal­low. Farm­ers are be­ing told they now need a li­cence to op­er­ate, they need to prove why they de­serve to be a farmer. De­spite the fact Aus­tralian agri­cul­ture has evolved to be one of the most sus­tain­able on the planet, it’s still not good enough for many mod­ern-day con­sumers.

The lat­est wave of cam­paigns and projects to “build com­mu­nity trust”, “to en­gage the con­sumer” is be­com­ing a crowded, costly space.

The farm sec­tor is spend­ing mil­lions of dol­lars try­ing to un­der­stand what con­sumers want, what the next big risk, or com­plaint, is go­ing to be and how to man­age it.

The strug­gle for farm­ers in all of this is con­stantly hav­ing to re­spond — at their own ex­pense — to the de­mands of con­sumers so re­moved from the coal­face of farm­ing.

But can you ever keep so-called change­mak­ers happy? Many of these are con­sumers who don’t re­alise what they want is un­re­al­is­tic or un­af­ford­able, or in many cases is al­ready hap­pen­ing.

They want high-qual­ity food and fi­bre, but they want the low-qual­ity price tag.

It’s get­ting tir­ing. Farm­ers con­stantly told what to do and hav­ing to ex­plain them­selves to peo­ple who are so dis­con­nected from re­al­ity has al­most be­come de­mean­ing. The de­bate around com­mu­nity trust needs to be re­bal­anced, with a fo­cus on trust.

Let’s trust that our farm­ers are guardians of the land. Let’s trust them to feed and clothe us, be­fore it all just gets too hard.

The Weekly Times Ed­i­tor

THE STRUG­GLE FOR FARM­ERS IN ALL OF THIS IS CON­STANTLY HAV­ING TO RE­SPOND — AT THEIR OWN EX­PENSE — TO THE DE­MANDS OF CON­SUMERS SO RE­MOVED FROM THE COAL­FACE OF FARM­ING.

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