Australian agriculture already where it needs to be

AgForce President Georgie Somerset

Against all the odds stacked against us – drought, floods, bushfires, COVID, and disruptions to international trade – Australian farmers produce world-class food and fibre for the rest of the country and the world to enjoy.

We do it by caring for our two greatest assets (besides our people): our land, and our livestock. To do otherwise undermines everything about farming itself.

We need our land kept in the best condition possible; we need happy, healthy animals to ensure we deliver the best quality produce. It doesn’t work, at least not very well, any other way.

As an industry, we have already reduced CO2 emissions, down more than 55 per cent since 2005, increased documented biosecurity plans for cattle properties, up from 25 to 90 per cent, achieved 99 per cent compliance with Australian standards for chemical residues, decreased our water usage, and improved the use of pain relief for livestock.

But for some it still isn’t enough.

Some within the banking sector, big business, our trading partners, and many social activists, have singled-out agriculture in recent times with calls to prove and improve already high levels of sustainability, supported by nothing more than emotionally-driven, extremist rhetoric, devoid of anything even approaching facts.

There’s no doubt the world, and with it the animal welfare and environmental sustainability expectations for agriculture, is changing, and I for one don’t have a problem with that.

It’s important we continue to ensure best practice, that we raise the bar across the industry.

What I do object to are the false claims that agriculture is the problem, when, as I’ve indicated above, we already lead the way.

Governments, bowing to pressure from certain sections of the community, where social license is usually decided, continue to enforce stricter rules on farmers that only serve to increase the cost of production to the point where many producers have, or are considering, leaving the industry.

This is why, rather than seeing farmers and agriculture as something to be controlled with rules and regulations, open collaboration and conversation with industry is key, and why AgForce continues to communicate with Governments at all levels to find more sustainable ways forward.

There are other industries after all, that while we may have grown used to the conveniences they afford us, aren’t nearly as vital as agriculture to our survival, and are far, far more polluting.

And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the security of our food and fibre, and our ability to keep the production lines open, has never been more important.

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