Recent headlines highlight ag's many complex challenges

Recent headlines highlight ag's many complex challenges

Opinion
ABA CEO Anna Bligh (pictured with Bendigo Mayor Margaret O'Rourke with ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott) summarised agriculture's challenge at the NFF conference when she said, "Trust comes in like a turtle and leaves like galloping horses".

ABA CEO Anna Bligh (pictured with Bendigo Mayor Margaret O'Rourke with ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott) summarised agriculture's challenge at the NFF conference when she said, "Trust comes in like a turtle and leaves like galloping horses".

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Rather than bemoaning the well-known shock and awe tactics used by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it's worth pausing to consider the proactive alternative.

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Stories on page three and five of the Daily Telegraph earlier this month provide another sharp reminder of not only the agricultural sector's many complex challenges but the critical importance of telling our story, to continually build community trust and understanding.

Page three, earlier this month contained a short article about animal rights activists submitting an application to try to gain government permission to erect a road-side tombstone in Adelaide after a recent truck crash led to the death of an undisclosed number of chickens.

It used the incident to shine a spotlight on the risks of transporting animals in the food production supply chain combined with a subtle but deliberate message about road safety - a common value shared by all Australians.

Rather than bemoaning the well-known shock and awe tactics used by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it's worth pausing to consider the proactive alternative.

This reporting also presents an opportunity to tell our story and drive a more sensible discussion by sharing the farm sector's views and values, sprinkled with a few tasty facts, for the paper's Sydney based audience and others to digest.

Turn to page five and the recent newspaper has done an excellent job once more of educating Sydney-siders about the ongoing challenges facing farmers and rural communities in tackling one of the worst droughts ever.

This was achieved through an interview with Boggabri farmer Richard Gillham who revealed the depth of his battle to continue farming in the face of devastating drought; including the heft costs of feeding animals to maintain their welfare in the toughest of conditions.

It's worth noting these two articles also appeared during the National Farmers' Federation's 40th year celebrations, which were underscored by a series of thought-provoking events held in Canberra during Ag Week 2019.

At the NFF conference at Parliament House in Canberra, an update was given on the progress of some important strategies which aims to develop greater capacity for building ongoing community trust in rural industries by sharing common values through story-telling.

This project involves a collaborative partnership between 10 Rural Research and Development Corporations, the NFF and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and research by VoconiQ, which is powered by the CSIRO.

The first round of results is due out later this year.

A stand out comment voiced at the NFF conference by Australian Banking Association CEO Anna Bligh summarised agriculture's challenge when she said, "Trust comes in like a turtle and leaves like galloping horses".

  • Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer and as managing director of communications company Seftons.
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