National Ag Day needed here too

It’s National Agriculture Day in Australia where the rural urban divide is widening:

The traditional divide between city slickers and their country cousins has turned into a yawning chasm, with 83 per cent of Australians convinced agriculture and farming have no or little relevance to their lives.

A new survey commissioned for the first National Agriculture Day tomorrow also found only 4 per cent of Australians correctly identified agriculture as the fastest-growing sector of the Australian economy, while fewer than half had met or talked to a farmer in the past year.

The National Farmers Federation, which commissioned the survey, believes it proves an urgent need for agriculture to promoted nationally as an exciting, hi-tech industry vital to Australia’s economic future, to reverse the misperception it is a dull, outdated sector of the past.

NFF president Fiona Simson said few Australians are aware that the nation’s once-quiet agricultural sector is now producing more than $64 billion of food and fibre products annually, provides 1.6 million Australians with jobs, grew at a phenomenal rate of 23 per cent last year and single-handedly prevented the economy from reversing into recession over the previous two quarters.

“This is an industry that is powering ahead and which was the largest contributor to national economic (GDP) growth in the last two quarters, but no one in the cities knows that any more,” Ms Simson lamented yesterday.

“In the old days, everyone knew a farmer and understood what farmers did and where their food came from, but city people are now so geographically distant and disconnected from the broader agriculture and food industries, that all that understanding and interest has been lost.”

It doesn’t help that increasing urbanisation means fewer people in the media understand farming and wider rural issues, nor that this has allowed the radical green movement to dominate the debate with arguments based on emotion rather than science.

The 2016 census revealed that 49 per cent of Australians today were either born overseas or have foreign-born parents, while 70 per cent live in the eight capital cities.

The number of farmers has also shrunk from 320,000 to fewer than 90,000 in the past 35 years according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while the country-to-city population drift and the nation’s urbanisation has continued unabated. . . 

Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said there was no more important industry than agriculture, and National Agriculture Day was a time for all Australians to acknowledge and thank generations of farming families.

“Our nation’s farmers, and agricultural and food sector workers and businesses, do so much more than simply keeping us fed; they are international leaders, stewards of Australia’s landscape and environment and produce some of the best food on the planet that feeds 60 million people around the world,” Senator Ruston said.

“The Aussie farmer has made Australia the lucky country.”

The importance of agriculture to New Zealand’s economy is very unusual in a developed country but the contribution is often undervalued.

Is it time we had a National Agriculture Day too?

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