Dairy farmers are not alone in having to grapple with the vagaries of supply and demand.
Sue Neales reports today in The Australian on Australian milk price woes
Farmers have little control over both their input costs and their output returns – in fact the volatility index of agriculture at 300% higher than the retailers they supply would in most cases scare off even the big risk takers – the share market volatility is child’s play compared to the risks involved with farming.
Most farming businesses cope with the financial and emotional stress by having multiple incomes streams such as
- at least one partner in the business having a second off farm income.
- diversification – ensuring you dont have all your eggs in one basket – usually not an option for dairy farmers
In light of the December 2015 Paris COP21 climate change agreement do commitments from companies like AGL to transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy open the door for farmers to get a new passive income stream from renewable energy? Is harnessing Australia’s natural resource assets of being the sunniest and one of the windiest countries an opportunity for farmers to do what they love plus maintain the 60% of the landscape they manage and get a fair return on investment?
Can farmers power our communities with clean energy technology – the science and technology says we can but Australian government policy is yet to provide the necessary enabling power
As Mick Keogh highlights in his comments in the Australian Farm Institute February newsletter farmers must and can be part of the solution to meet emissions reduction targets.
The Australian agriculture sector, contributes approximately 15% of total national emissions, is likely to be included in policies that are developed with the aim of achieving Australia’s future emission targets.
This will however require smart policy from government.
As Mick reminds the government
While it is possible to project some future scenarios for agriculture, a major uncertainty is likely to be the confusion created by overlapping Australian and state government policies. Unless these are better coordinated, they will make Australia’s emission target much harder to achieve
Government is starting to see the light
Australian and state government policies are at long last starting to create systems to pay landholders for the environmental services they provide for the community, and addressing the well-recognised inequity that has been inherent in legislation for the past 20 years. It would be a great shame if a lack of coordination between governments simultaneously removed some of potential benefits available to landholders, and at the same time made Australia’s already challenging Paris emissions commitment even more difficult to achieve.
But there are challenges from within. Getting the best outcomes for farmers and Australia is going to require farmers to be actively and visibly part of the conversation in the community – not something we have traditionally done.
Never before has it being so pivotal that our leaders look at new ways to identify and build partnerships with the powerful voices. Do we (farmers) have the will to get out of our silos and work both together, and with the community to enable us to change the culture of how we have traditionally done business.
It is an exciting new era with huge potential for farmers. There will shortly be an announcement of a new public facing farmer group who will be working with the powerful voices to investigate and advocate for farmer opportunities and incentives to harness the potential of our most bountiful asset – nature without doing her any harm. Lets continue to build the win:wins but this will require more than farmer voices at the table