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Right time to reflect on 2018
AS a nation, we rarely stop to consider how im- portant the agriculture sector and our farmers are to the foundations of society.
Whether it’s growing safe and nutritious food, fibre and foliage for the country and a rising glob- al population; protecting the environment and pro- viding land stewardship; helping even up the ledger in our balance of pay- ments; or creating much- needed jobs in regional and rural communities.
As 2018 draws to a close and we look to the new year, it is timely to reflect on some successes, chal- lenges and future actions.
The recent National Ag- riculture Day is a good initiative because it gives everyone the chance to re- flect on the pivotal role agriculture has played in the country’s history, cel- ebrate its successes, rec- ognise the challenges and resolve to work towards its bright future.
The headline numbers proudly boast around 85,000 agricultural busi- nesses across the country directly employing over
300,000 people and serv- ing as a $60 billion eco- nomic pillar.
Looking at the poultry industries, 530 chicken meat businesses managed a national flock of over 90 million birds and were responsible for supplying Australian consumers’ meat of choice, with about 49kg consumed per per- son last year.
Chicken has never been more affordable than it is now, with the industry continuing to make sig- nificant efficiency and productivity improve- ments.
Additionally, 2018 was a record-breaking year for egg production, with 6.2 billion eggs pro- duced – that’s 16.9 mil-
lion eggs every day. This number is a mass- ive 54 percent increase from 10 years ago, and today average egg con- sumption is 245 eggs per
person, per year. National Agriculture
Day is also an opportunity to educate the public by recognising the challeng- es and resolving to work towards fixing them.
For the poultry in-
dustries, the protracted drought has presented some tough times, with massive increases in the cost of feed supplies.
For most consumers, the impact of drought on agri- culture means dry dams, bare paddocks and hungry stock.
So, few would appreci- ate the direct correlation sustained high feed costs have on the long-term profitability of intensive animal businesses.
Indeed, current state and federal drought policies do not demonstrate an un- derstanding of the differ- ent business models that operate within the sector either, and government support arrangements largely focus on the visual impacts of drought.
The drought has in- creased the public’s
awareness of the vagaries of life on the land and consumers have generally responded with more con- scious decisions about the produce they buy.
As the cost of produc- tion and inputs increase, agriculture must make a concerted effort to contin- ue educating consumers about breaking the barrier between ethical intent and behaviour.
Habitually buying lo- cal produce and paying a fair price for it is the best way Queensland consumers can support farmers.
By doing so, they will continue to play an active role in helping to build more resilient, sustain- able farming businesses when it rains and ensure a bright future for Aus- tralianagriculture.
George the Farmer got involved in National Agriculture Day.
Gen Y turns a blind
eye to food and
fibre production
SHOCKING new statis- tics have revealed that young Australians aged 18-29 are the most likely to say they don’t care at all how their food and fibre is grown.
The 2018 National Agri- culture Day Poll conduct- ed by TEG Insights has found that almost a quar- ter (23 percent) of people in this age range say they don’t care at all how their food and fibre is grown.
This figure is 8 percent higher than for Austral- ians aged 30-49.
The AgDay Poll is com- missioned annually by the National Farmers’ Federa- tion to gauge the commu- nity’s connection to the farm sector.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the apathy displayed by18to29yearoldsis cause for concern.
“This is meant to be a demographic with a deep social conscience, yet al- most one in four couldn’t care less how the food they put in their mouths is grown,” Mr Mahar said.
“While some might say this is a credit to the qual- ity, safety and abundance of food and fibre we produce in Australia, it’s troubling that as a country we’re growing increas- ingly disconnected from life’s essentials.”
The AgDay Poll also found that more than half (52 percent) of 18-29 year olds felt disconnected with farming and unin- formed about the industry.
not had any contact with a single farmer in the past 12 months.
“We have to do a better job at getting in front of the community and hav- ing an open and honest conversation about what we do,” Mr Mahar said.
“Otherwise we risk see- ing generations of Aus- tralians with no under- standing of where their food and fibre comes from.”
The poll findings coin- cided with National Agri- culture Day on November 21 – an awareness cam- paign led by the NFF to highlight the farm sector’s contribution.
“This year, we cel- ebrated AgDay under the theme ‘Grow for Good’,” Mr Mahar said.
“It’s all about highlight- ing the progress our in- dustry is making each year by farming smarter and more sustainably.
“There is a great story to tell about Australian agriculture.
“Whether it’s strength- ening communities by providing jobs, growing more food and fibre to meet surging demand or taking better care of our planet – each year we’re improving what we do, and making the world a better place to live.”
The public was encour- aged to wear green to sup- port our farmers and take a moment to share the ‘Grow for Good’ message on social media, using the hashtags #GrowforGood and #AgDayAU.
This is unsurprising per- haps, given 65 percent had
National Poultry Newspaper, December 2018/January 2019 – Page 7
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