At present there is no ‘us’, just me, Roger Crook.
Some years ago I published The Global Farmer on the web; then the Sword of Damocles fell upon our house and the direction of our life permanently changed. So now we start again.
The Global Farmer has one objective and that is to be the facilitator for a thoughtful conversation on the proposition of the need for a change throughout the structure of Australian agriculture.
If you disagree with the need for change, if you want everything to stay exactly as it is now, then stop reading and go back to what you were doing, for you will find little to comfort you on these pages.
In an agricultural world beset by uncertainty due to a burgeoning world population, climate variability, war, starvation, obesity, retail monopolies, corruption in high places, waste, commodity market volatility and ubiquitous international ambitions to acquire agricultural land and other agricultural assets in Australia, now is the time for Australian agriculture to determine its own destiny. Time to stand up and be heard. Time to get its own way for a change.
It’s time for Australian farmers and their advisers, from consultants to bankers and even to politicians, to put their opinions forward and develop a strategic business plan for the future for Australian agriculture and not just sit back, complain and blame someone else when others from other countries, with lots of money, move to implement their plans for the Australian agriculture of the future.
The proposition that Australian agriculture must change is surely a given? Isn’t it? It is abhorrent to contemplate that Australian agriculture will to continue to be as politically emasculated in the future as it has been for the last forty years or more.
That may seem an outrageous claim to those who represent rural electorates, it will be even more offensive to those who are and have for decades put their all into the factional party political maelstrom, which we call government in Australia. It’s hard to argue against the sobering realization that agriculture no longer rates in the conscience of the Australian people or the Australian media. As a political force rural Australian is powerless, impotent, emasculated. Party politics has failed rural Australia.
It would unfair to only blame state and federal politicians of all political parties, for the historical and current, appalling lack of a long-term, structurally sound, strategic business plan for Australian agriculture.
Since time immemorial, state and federal politicians have been aided and abetted by legions of eager agri-politicians of unproven business ability who have flown around the country, claiming to be representative of some ‘Peak Body ‘ or other and ‘their’ farming constituency. Their political lifestyle has been financed by compulsory levies and the membership fees paid by the ever-dwindling members of State Farm Organisations.
The story of how the Nero-like agricultural political juggernaut has sucked on peeled grapes and fiddled as agriculture has smoldered and then been consumed in the inferno of debt is told so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.
Over $60 billion of agricultural debt in 2013 has not been acquired by a thriving industry. The debt was incurred because too many farmers for too long paid more than a dollar to generate a dollar, so the banks made up the shortfall year after year after year.
The battle for ‘cheap’ Australian agricultural assets has only just begun as prospective buyers, increasingly from other countries, find ways to exert financial and political pressure on Australian governments to achieve their ambitions. It would be a grave mistake to assume that Australian politicians will always consult with their constituency before making decisions that affect agriculture. They haven’t in the past, no reason to think they will start now.
Foreign investors don’t care about Australia’s rural debt, why should they? They are buying not selling and land values in Australia are declining.
The question is whether Australian agriculture, from farmers to financiers, from agribusiness to government can rise to meet that challenge or whether the changes, which are so desperately needed, can be made by Australians, or whether we will allow others to plan our future.
Foreign investors in Australia have but one objective and that is to make a long-term investment in Australia agriculture make a profit out of growing food to satisfy their domestic needs and meet the needs of the rapidly emerging and growing markets in our part of the world.
That is the challenge for agriculture in Australia. Do we want to be an important part of what has become the global village, can we change quickly enough, are we financially agile and resilient enough to protect and grow what assets we have? We can never be as big as the super agricultural powers of America and the EU, that shouldn’t stop Australia from being a leader in the Global Village of agriculture.
How will it run?
The Global Farmer is free.
There will not be a defined monthly or weekly edition. As new articles, letters and so on are posted, so we will let readers know by Facebook and maybe even Twitter?
The Global Farmer will not accept advertising. We want the site to be advertising free. None of those annoying pop ups or ways to get rid of belly fat right in the middle of an interesting article. As you will see, we will be happy to be paid if you think The Global Farmer is worth it.
There are a few small costs associated with running a website.
The biggest expence we foresee is to get out from behind the desk and talk to people and learn what is important to them, what challenges they are facing. I’m interested to learn why state farm organisations have such low membership. I want to know if ABARE are right when they put the average age of farmers in the eastern wheat belt at 63 and if they are what are we going to do about it? So are so many questions that can only be asked and the answers found out there, where you are on the land.
My resources are limited but I have not set up The Global Farmer to supplement my income, all I hope it a can do is cover my costs. If it does more than that, I will be pleased.
We will accept sponsorship and sponsors names will be gratefully acknowledged on the site with their name and the services(s) they offer. Prospective sponsors can write to me at our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you develop the opinion The Global Farmer is worth supporting then we will happily receive donations of whatever you think we are worth. Our bank account details are: R R & L Crook BSB Number 633-000 Account Number 137608295
Legal tender may be forwarded to 12/11 Stranmore Boulevarde, Bayonet Head, Albany 6330.