Australian farmers advocacy groups have to change or die

The most valuable resource farmers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives – appropriated from wise words from Robert John Meehan

Last Monday I attended a meeting in Sydney that brought around the table a group of people all determined to create a prosperous NSW dairy industry that had the capacity to grow and support that growth

I learnt things that scared me. Things like there are 20 plus organisations in NSW all trying to meet the needs of NSW dairy farmers

20 plus organisations that if we were all honest have very little idea what each other’s roles are and what each other does

Hopefully we haven’t got 20 plus organisations and individuals all vying for meetings with politicians and policy makers. But we wouldn’t know because in the main we don’t talk to each other.

I am confident the dairy industry isn’t alone

In fact the Australian Farm Institute is about to release its research into the efficacy of our state and national farming advocacy groups that decrees ‘Australian farmers’ advocacy groups have to change, or die’

This is a complex problem that trusts me get more complex when you put your hand up to take an active role in these state and national bodies.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about why they don’t work. Why I couldn’t be more effective. What I could do to be more effective.

But instead of beating myself up I am focusing on looking for models that work and I trying to work out why they work

The key thing that frustrated me as a farmer representative was how little I knew of what was happening in the background

For example the dairy industry has research, development and extension programs that focus on

1. Animals, Feed and the Environment see here

2. People and Business see here

In fact the dairy industry is renowned for the quality of its R&D but often struggles to get uptake of extension.

Now I found even at representative level there was no opportunity for me to get exposure to any of this R&D unless I asked for and had a meeting with a head of department at Dairy Australia, spent a lot of time on their website or stumbled across it because of my involvement elsewhere.

Because of my involvement on an NFF Blueprint Committee this document the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework came into my Inbox When I saw it I went WOW. Does a document get any more impressive than this? I doubt it

Now to me this Sustainability Framework is the dairy industry’s answer to Meat and Livestock Australia’s Target 100 initiative

What is bizarre is this. I am a dairy farmer who knew nothing about the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework yet I know a considerable amount about Target 100.

I think these two examples exemplify the problem on many levels and maybe the solution.

MLA has given their farmers ownership of Target 100. There are now over two hundred farmer stories

Two hundred plus farmer stories sharing the same key messages

Stories about farmers from right across Australia including young farmers like Jasmine Nixon , Tim Eyes , Hannah Barber, Josh Gilbert and Geoff Birchnell and Danille Fox

There are a number of other clever key marketing nuances that set the two programs apart.

Ultimately the answers to agriculture’s woes are sitting right in front of our noses.

The 21st century gives us the perfect communication tools.

All we have to do now is get on with it

Self-Promotion is not a dirty word.

Let’s celebrate success and share our stories and start talking to each other

CollaborationLike teachers none of us can afford to be an island 

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

4 thoughts on “Australian farmers advocacy groups have to change or die”

  1. Two comments.
    Multiple representative groups for industries and the ag sector in general highlights the lack of solidarity within ag. Fierce independence is both a strength and weakness and as individuals we need to better understand when to stick together and when to be independent. If we can’t figure that out we will continue to be less effective than we should be.

    As a consumer I have a very good nose for self promotion and it turns me off big time. I may be the exception, but subtlety for me is paramount. Blatant advertising or self promotion loses me straight away.

    1. Thank you Jeremy for taking the time to read my blog and commenting
      I agree wholeheartedly with your first comment and keen to clarify my comment about self-promotion.
      By self-promotion in this instance I mean farmers sharing their positive stories to promote agriculture broadly. Sadly we have a noisy minority element in our midst who believe farmers should only share their woes and are determined to cut down anyone who dares say anything positive. I have watched the Target 100 initiative grow over the past 4 years and with it farmer pride and confidence. Farmers have been quiet achievers for too long and I feel the future lies in building their capacity to communicate more broadly with each other and what better way than using the 21st century tools available to them.

  2. Hi Lynne. So many advocacy groups but no progress overall. I am wondering why pay for the membership. Too much to discuss here so we must get some like minded people together for a candid discussion. John Fairley

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