My post yesterday came from a place of deep hurt. In fact my entire world is driven by my emotions.
When I came back to agriculture 20 years ago I knew there was a very good reason why I left in the first place. I didn’t want to milk cows but I did want to use my talents ( whatever they were ) to get the best outcomes for the industry my family loved so much.
It turned out I did have a talent I didn’t know I had and that was designing and delivering action learning programs for young people
To hone my talent I sought our John Hutchison and Deanne Kennedy at JayDee events who have been delivering Cows Create Careers for the dairy industry.
John and Deanne are magnificent humans and together with Cathy Phelps ( who at the time headed up the Natural Resources Management department at Dairy Australia) we created a farmer focused first iteration of Picasso Cows where young people in primary schools explored healthy landscapes, clean waterways and energy efficient dairies. I got it funded and piloted it for two years and then Dairy Australia wanted it.
The first Picasso Cows were traffic stoppers
I was aware the budget would be in Marketing and Communications (M&C) . The people who run schools’ engagement at Dairy Australia are nutritional experts. The Dairy Australia version of Picasso Cows would not be farmer focused and instead have a health and nutrition focus
All well and good, that is their area of expertise, but not my passion so I walked away. Handed over all the IP everything for no remuneration and knew that it was in good hands been looked after by John and Deanne.
Is Picasso Cows still being looked after by John and Deanne? No it isn’t. When will people in Marketing and Communications realise grass roots programs are successful because they are grass roots programs and the best people to deliver them are the grass roots ?
A couple of years ago Dairy Australia made the decision to no longer fund Cows Create Careers . It was so rewarding to see the farmers go into battle to have Dairy Australia reverse their decision. As I said John and Deanne are magnificent humans, they have a rapport with the demographic of farmers I don’t- the over 45’s
I also created a highly successful series called “Jhet and Emma – A Day in the Life of Two Young Girls working on a Dairy Farm ” series for the NSW DPI LandLearn program. The DPI insisted it be housed on their website. When they shut down LandLearn did they let me know the Jhet and Emma series would disappear into the ether? No they did not. Hours and hours and hours of pro bono time and a highly successful education series gone forever .
And this was just the beginning of the extractive world of agriculture I found myself in. After 20 years I feel like an abused housewife who knows deep down no matter how much people say they are going to change, the problem is too endemic, yet she keeps going back for more.
So I ask myself, why is the culture in agriculture like this and there is a good reason
Everyday WE ( Australians) wake up expecting food at rock bottom prices to be a birth rite. We are asking farmers to do what they do and we aren’t prepared to value it. The system proliferates this mindset. The supermarkets wake up everyday on a race to the bottom competing on price alone.
Food is 10% of income in this country. 70 years ago it was 50%. Our farmers getting up everyday to produce food at rock bottom prices gives us a disposable income to spend on other things.
Our farmers feel undervalued. The sector feels undervalued. Undervalued people tend to focus on problems and don’t have the energy to seek out solutions. They tend not to value people who do.
Change starts with us
How do we start the regenerative process?