Australian farmers – a crisis is looming how will we rise to the challenge


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As my readers know I have been nonstop blogging since the beginning of 2016. The reason for this is I so admire the wonderful farmers I find myself surrounded by and I was so torn

What do you do when you know something that could destroy overnight the credibility of the people you know and love and value and you want to warn them of impending disaster and you want to rally them?

You could do a number of things. In my case I saw my blog as the best vehicle I had to reach as many people as possible in as short a period of time as I could using social media

Like a number of farmers, I do my very best to keep up with the tide of public opinion both positive and negative about modern farming practices and talk to as many groups as I can, to see where their concerns lie

It was these relationships that forewarned me that a mass media campaign was about to be launched that could potentially destroy all the amazing gains our best practice natural resource management Landcare ethos focused farmers have achieved over the last 30 years and potentially destroy our credibility as people who can be trusted to do the right thing

My blogs copped plenty of well-meaning friendly fire. Farmers who were horrified that I would put the mistakes of the past front and centre and subtlety invite my readers to visit websites that share the good news stories. Some didnt realise this was just a taster of what they  would shortly see in the media and there would be no subtle links to the good news stories

Whether we like it or note it’s time for change. The power of public opinion environment farmers operate in is changing. We need to change with it. Yes we provide a very essential service but so do lots of other people in other essential service professions  and they find themselves operating in a highly regulated world and they understand and respect why

Farmers just can’t afford to ignore the world we live in.  The world that loves controversy. Cute, cuddly and cancer stories now sell newspapers and attract main stream media and ensure huge donations to charities that appeal to the three C’s

Josh Gilbert Chair of the NSWFA Young Farmer Council has been working non-stop to bring all the aggrieved parties together to no avail and sadly he has found himself in a position where he felt the only way he could save our wonderful farmers from a name and shame media campaign was to resign his position with the NSW Farmers Young Farmer Council

Josh Gilbert has made a very brave stand. All farmers who have learnt from the mistakes of our fathers and those well-meaning people who came before us are also making a stand as Josh’s supporters are showing

Farmers are people, our sector has a lot of wonderful people doing the right thing and a few cowboys we wish hadn’t chosen farming as a career pathway. A self-regulation policy just isn’t an option  when we are talking about something – our precious landscape -so close to the heart of so many Australians.

What farmers deserve is a ground breaking watershed co-regulation policy model that protects the people doing the right thing from the people who may not be doing the right thing

When you talk about the Australian landscape which regularly polls as front of mind for Australians it is very naive to think Australian  voters will accept a model that suggests the people who look after 60-80% of it should self-regulate without identified clear codes of practice and accountability measures

Josh Gilbert is exactly the person we need to bring all the parties together. Lets not shoot the messenger. We can sit in the stands or we can get on the train with him. Its our choice, which one will you make ?



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