Drought is now an average year and we need a new way of thinking revolution

The farming community spirit is a bit like a diamond where different facets can shine in different circumstances,” Penelope Wensley

Yesterday I received my NFF Advocate newsletter

It began like this

It’s been a tough start to the year for the farm sector, with much of QLD, NSW, SA and NT still heavily within the grips of drought. The NFF has been working to drive outcomes for Australian farmers, and ensure agriculture is reprioritised on the national agenda during this critical time.

My recent post ‘Drought bringing the solutions to the table’ found here reflected on the need for Australians to see drought as an average year and for farmers to focus on bringing the solutions top the table.

‘Farming needs delivery of business strategies on ground right now that can help and this initiative aims at doing everything possible to deliver opportunities going forward. With no stock, no grass, no rain forecasted and no money in the bank it paints a very grim picture around the kitchen table at most farms around Australia.’  James Walker

Farmers need to be pragmatic we can’t hang our hats on waiting for the the government to step in especially in light of reports like this

Productivity Commission and other recent reporting to government are recommending rationalisation of drought assistance and reform of drought policy. The report recognises that the level of drought assistance has crept from a one in twenty five exceptional event to become more frequent in the presence of a long dry and changing climate. In this circumstance, the general observation emerges that too many farm businesses in too many regions have been receiving Exceptional Circumstances (EC) and other related assistance more frequently than the original definition and policy intent. The level of assistance is now deemed inappropriate and an unsustainable distortion of the farm business sector, particularly in the context of climate change.[17]

According to the report[18]:

Most farmers are sufficiently self-reliant to manage climate variability. In 2007-08, 23 per cent of Australia’s 143,000 farms received drought assistance, totalling over $ 1 billion, with some on income support continuously since 2002. In drought declared areas, most farmers manage without assistance. From 2002-03 to 2007-08, on average, about 70 per cent of dairy and broadacre farms in drought areas received no drought assistance.

Governments need to commit to a long term reform path that recognises that the primary responsibility for managing risks, including from climate variability and change, rests with farmers.

Extract found  here

Governments do care but they listen to voters and in the 21st century developed world people in the main just aren’t interested in other people’s problems

“You have got to not just influence myself and my colleagues, but you have to influence a whole country, it has to be something that, when you walk into a (Cabinet) room, with the 19 votes, you can get 10 of them. And that is what is politics about. – Barnaby Joyce

On top of this Art4Agriculture’s Archibull Prize entry surveys consistently shows us year after year  both teachers and students alike think more than 50% of the food we eat is imported. I am confident our teachers and students are excellent representation of the awareness of the Australian population with regards to where their food come from

Yes farming has done a poor job of showing Australians how much they rely on their farmers to feed them but that’s another story. We have all have choices, so farmers like everyone have to get on the front foot because nobody is forcing us to farm.

Chair of the inquiry, Dick Adams (Member for Lyons, Tasmania), on the importance of agricultural public policy to be more strategic in future with respect to assistance to farm businesses:

Putting our resources into black holes is not where the future is and not a good way to spend the public dollar. I think the Australian people would rather be assisting enterprises that have a business plan looking to the future; that will adapt to climate change and the issues that confront us in the next 20 to 30 years. We’ve also got to look at the opportunities at the enterprise level and look at where we’re going in a world sense. I think farmers will get left behind if they don’t adapt and look for opportunities.  Dick Adams 

This post is about farmers taking their destiny in their own hands and I want to hear from those farmers so I can share their story. Today my feature farmer is James Walker.


James with two of his daughters

I am lucky enough to know James. Young Farming Champion Bron Roberts and I enjoyed James company over dinner in Brisbane in December and what a dynamic, exciting and far sighted young man he is.

James is a Nuffield Scholar and Western Queensland mixed enterprise wool grower grazing 15,000 sheep at Longreach. You will find a great story on James and his farming operation here

James has even mixed it with royalty a number of times with he and his wife Manny among a group of four young families representing the next generation of graziers invited to meet the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during the Longreach leg of their Australian visit in November 2012.

James Walker and family meet Prince Charles

Yes and doesn’t Queensland remember 2012 well – the year of the floods. Sadly again Queensland farmers like many in NSW and Victoria are living through another nightmare weather event caused this time by not enough water, with Queensland having the hottest year on record in 2013

James Walker and his family far doing it very tough but he is not standing still. James and his wife Manny are using social media and the Agrihive  website they have set up to help tackle the big challenges around farming including drought.


The Agrihive team commitment says it all

If you have a concern problem or opportunity in Agriculture, Agrihive does not sleep until we are on the other side of the concern, problem or opportunity.

Agrihive will move mountains to achieve business, lifestyle and agricultural goals.

Our team is committed, exposed heavily to Agriculture and will provide results.

James has fire in his belly and he is in it for the long haul. James is also a person who DOES care about other people and I can assure you when you read his story you will be just as impressed with this young man as everyone who meets him

This is the Agrihive story in James words…..

Many efforts have been made to fundraise and subsidise the farmers that are facing annihilation. The results of these efforts are limited and lack long term strategy for a weak and fading industry that is exposed to tactical policy changes that lack foresight and courage from our leaders.

Farming needs delivery of business strategies on ground right now that can help and this initiative aims at doing everything possible to deliver opportunities going forward. With no stock, no grass, no rain forecasted and no money in the bank it paints a very grim picture around the kitchen table at most farms around Australia.

We need a revolution in Agriculture, we need to enable farmers to navigate and recover from this complex situation. We need high levels of information that is not rhetoric and long winded, we need result focussed information right now to help us. We do need to accumulate suggestions for long term policy but we need to create opportunities now before another farmer quits our system. That is why we have created Agrihive.

Agrihive is a site that requires you to join, provide real ideas, concepts and results for right now, which will be delivered to the farmers. It honours the resilience of the farming community in desperate unchartered times. As famers we want to take control of the situation.

We want to dust ourselves off and continue being the best producers of food in the World and contribute to the Australian Economy. We are not whinging we are just searching for answers and we are becoming desperate for them. which is best achieved through training, awareness and interaction.

As an example the first instalment of Agrihive is to provide a free 25 minute audio you can access by clicking here. The file contains interviews with three experts in the fields of marketing and feed and fodder analysis.

Farmers will learn what other leading producers have learnt;

  • How to buy fodder like a professional
  • The 3 key measurements for effective feeding
  • How to compare different fodder costs
  • 2014 Cattle market expectations from a marketing expert

Click here to access nowDrought, Fodder, Finance and Future

Agrihive has a suite of information and templates to take control of your business in the drought.

We are progressively covering the following topics and have a growing Agricultural business community.


There are many layers of cost reduction in Agriculture, Agrihive will uncover spending through key expert eyes and unlock some new discoveries for farmer savings.


The ability to accumulate revenue generating assets is the key to recovery from drought. Agrihive reveals a systematized approach to business performance.


See the Possibilities

Please join now for updates at www.agrihive.com and contribute to real change.

Agrihive will create new opportunities and levels of thinking; revealing new options.

There have only been 500 free CDs recorded so please act now and feel free to pass this message on to your friends and contacts as they may get something good out of Agrihive as it is committed to a better future in Farming.

You can download your complimentary recording by clicking here

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning” (Winston Churchill).

When I think of James and the conversations I have had with him I think of the quote

THERE are two types of people in this world – the doers and the don’ters.

Doers accept they can create the life they want and then come up with a plan to make it happen. James has got a goal, he has got a plan, he is adapting and look for opportunities.

He is doing what a lot more people need to be doing and that is getting of their backsides and making it happen.

I invite you to join Agrihive now for updates at www.agrihive.com and contribute to real change.

Beef Central have also covered this story here 

Lets not forget people are doing it tough and everybody needs a hand from time to time. This is a great organization doing just that and all Australians can lend a helping hand by supporting them. Visit their website here     

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

3 thoughts on “Drought is now an average year and we need a new way of thinking revolution”

  1. James certainly does have a fire in his belly, Lynne, and what a great story about turning that fire into something really useful. Does he plan to work in conjunction with industry bodies like DA, who are already in this space (albeit via different mediums)?

  2. Hello Marian, would be great to discuss this with you. I believe in collaboration and would be honoured to explore new opportunies with DA, have you got any links to look at or are you interested in a particular approach? My email is james@agrihive.com please let me know, have a great week, Warm Regards, James Walker 0428583336

  3. Hello James,

    Agrihive is an incredible and practical initiative. Well done. With regards to collaboration, where could you see veterinarians playing a part in this initiative.



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: