Why cant Agriculture fight the good fight together

I have found there are two main types of people in agriculture and this of course is generalisation

There are people who are focussed on doing the right thing and people who predominately want to do their own thing and of course there are some people who manage to get a nice balance between the two (most impressive).

I find this in our business. My husband and my son love farming, they like the solitude, they love their cows and they hate the politics. They just want to do their own thing and they worry about me and cant understand and hate the fact I put myself out there and ride the ridges and sometimes get shot out.

So I get this mindset and you wont change people like my husband and son but I cant forgive industry bodies who cant see why the big picture is so important. Who cant see why silo thinking is destroying agriculture

Recently I have become actively involved in the AgChatOZ LinkedIn discussion group and must admit I am fascinated by the two way conversations and other people opinions and most importantly the thought they have put into the solutions and what they think the solutions are. The current active discussions are


Julia Hausler posted this question this morning

So we do have a rural urban divide and it does matter. (refer earlier discussions). What are YOU going to do about it?

John Keily can back with

What am I going to do? Well, I’m going to ask you what you think of this ad

and I replied (BTW my previous comment on the ad here )

It generated this

Whilst the first video reached over 15 million people (compared to 35,000 for the spoof version ) and over $1Million was donated by RAMs to feed the poor together they highlight the polarising views in America

To me its imperative Agriculture doesn’t preach at people.  Charlie Arnot and his team are doing an awesome job of doing it the right way by providing farmers with the skills sets to tell their own story.

Australian farmers have a great story to tell and its time to say YES to the Australian Centre for Food Integrity so we know how to tell our story well. Not just for 90 seconds at the Superbowl. We want our story remembered everytime our consumers reach for a product on the supermarket shelf and take that little bit of extra time to make sure it was produced by an Aussie Farmer

What really makes me cranky is.  Why doesn’t  Australian agriculture do this together?

MLA through Target 100 is telling the story and very impressively on behalf of all cattle and sheep farmers.

AWI and Cotton Australia are working together to debunk the myth that cotton grows on sheep. See here for this great example

Dairy Australia on the other hand is spending $21 million plus on the Legendairy campaign  to tell dairy’s story

Yes your are right Dairy Australia

The Australian dairy industry has a magnificent and Legendairy™ tale to tell. This is an industry underpinned by some of the best people and practices in the world producing a truly amazing product. It defines the social fabric of many Australian agricultural regions and affects the lives of almost every Australian in some way.
The nation’s dairy industry is literally brimming with inspirational people and their stories — Legendairy™.

Yes and so do all  Australian farmers. Our dairy farmers rely on the grains industry, the vegetable industry, the cotton industry, the sugar industry, the list is endless. They rely on agriculture being dynamic, exciting, innovative and profitable.  Its not a competition about  which industry has the most impressive farmers.

Just imagine what we could achieve if Dairy Australia joined forces with MLA for example. I am an MLA levy payer as are all dairy farmers. MLA invited me to tell my story. I haven’t yet. I haven’t needed to – the beef farmers are doing on awesome job on my behalf. I salute them all.

Call to arms farmers. We can do our own thing but we cant afford to let industry do it in isolation. We must all ask the right questions and lobby hard for the greater good.  Its not just our future that depends on it. Australia’s health, wealth and happiness depends on it

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

8 thoughts on “Why cant Agriculture fight the good fight together”

  1. I hope you don’t mind me posting, but I wanted to inform about something I saw in the most recent issue of House & Garden magazine, published in Aust. There’s a story on page 99 about the homemaker retail market in Australia, in which I found this:

    “Australia’s strength in the homewares market is linked to its food culture, the quality of local produce and an awareness of healthy living, says [Pennie] Rende [district manager of US-based retailer Williams-Sonoma Australia]. “Australians take the time to learn the origins of products and spend time at home with family and friends cooking together,” she says. With that in mind, the Sydney store includes a cooking school, professional demonstration kitchen and a calendar of cooking classes, as well as tastings and demonstrations conducted by culinary staff and guest chefs.”

    I found it interesting to see a US company entering the market here and trying to meet the higher expectations of an informed public. They see engagement of this kind leading to profits. There’s a lot more I might say, about the RAM ad and its spoof, for example, as well as about the Arnot movie and the Legandairy ad, but I don’t want to get too caught up in my own ideas about how to counter negative messages that exist in the public sphere. Needless to say, the US has a population 15 times the size of ours, and so will always be serviced with more messages, from both sides. But I wonder if the Legandairy ad, for example, really addresses the concerns that middle class Australians such as the people that Rende talks about in that magazine story have about agriculture. You see in the ABC’s The Checkout program, for example, how much factual information the community can tolerate and, in fact, wants to receive.

  2. I read this post with great interest, and i was having some thoughts the other week after watching a Landline episode on Aussie wheat being exported to places like Indonesia and looking at the incredible quality control before the wheat goes into the ship.
    Without trying to insult the complexity of Australian agriculture, surely there are some simple uniting values that could be used to describe to consumers through some sort of campaign.

    As an ardent admirer, I think Australian agriculture has an incredible life of its own. It is innovative, ready to respond to the needs of its markets, be it noodle manufacturers in Indonesia or a consumer in Victoria seeking some organic dairy products. There are big players and little players supplying produce that is of enviable quality to local and overseas markets. The food and fibre produced by farmers here create jobs and money into our economy.
    There will always be people who may not be that concerned where their food comes from, but there are just as many who now are focussing on this more. I don’t see why agriculture should shy away from answering these questions if they are of concern. The world has become a smaller place with our ability to communicate these days, and there are always people out there willing to tell others what they think agriculture is about. Trust in reliable information is hard to find, not just in agriculture!
    The message will be what you decide, but the challenge is to listen and gauge the message already out there. Do we really know what non agricultural people think? Are there a few loud voices controlling the conversation? How can you begin to understand unless you know your customers (ie. consumers of agriculture’s products) and their perceptions of you.
    I can’t wait to see perhaps a tv ad one day that attempts to draw together as many industries as it can proudly illustrating the industry as a whole. That will be an amazing day and I hope it comes. The rest Aussie agriculture, is in your hands. Let’s not be shy about an incredible industry.

  3. Wow, some great food for thought here. I agree, we need to work together – unity gives strength. There are also lots of different ways of telling the story and getting the message out there. Why, for example, does agriculture not have any decent kind of profile in main-stream TV? Landline does a great job, but is very focused towards a rural audience. Advertising has a place, but the messaging has to be really sharp and hit the right nerve. Social media does a great job, but there are lots of us all around the world spreading a disjointed message….. Lots to think about!

  4. Thanks for putting this issue out there for discussion Lynne. I see a few reasons why farmers don’t band together; most of the industries have had large bodies controlling them and either ego or greed has meant that some have gone by the wayside (AWB AWC etc.) leaving the farmers more exposed to risk and only the most innovative have gone ahead. Innovators don’t think like the norm so they “go it alone”, this is where the independence comes from. So by default our society is gradually dividing and conquering the farmers, pretty soon this will compound causing major disasters. Primarily I would like to see our leaders have a vision for Ag., the environment and regional communities then start working towards it, showing how each community can help itself by being part of the picture. By leaders I mean our political parties, I would hope that they would seek direction and the thought of being involved in the future direction would bring many farmers together I reckon.
    We certainly do need to work together. we need to offer an incentive that is clear so that farmers work together, either that or a major Ag meltdown (disaster) they always bring people together. Nobody will believe there is a looming food crisis until there are queues for food and riots in Sydney/Canberra etc. Keep on talking about this hot issue.

  5. I think the answer is simple but the solution much harder to execute. Ag needs a common goal to unite behind and then a leader to bring us all together.

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