This has been another challenging year for the Australian agricultural sector with our resilience tested on multiple levels.
But as always, the tough times have also seen many good people doing good things to exhibit the fierce fighting spirit and practical problem-solving prowess that we all know exists in regional Australia.
Undoubtedly, drought is the biggest issue that's confronted Australian farmers and rural communities and businesses in 2019.
However, despite the enormity of the drought's ongoing challenges, we've also seen many positive responses and creative solutions emerge from different sectors of the community.
Short of being able to make it rain or having unlimited stored grain in the silo or sheep and cattle to sell into high paying markets, these initiatives are doing their bit to help ease economic pressures during some of the toughest of times.
The #buyfromthebush campaign has harnessed the powers of social media to raise broad awareness of the drought while generating a vital, alternative source of income for regional businesses.
At the same time, this campaign is also showcasing the amazing creative products on offer through regional retail outlets, bringing Australian-made items such as clothing, jewellery and fresh produce direct to metropolitan consumers, to bolster their Christmas shopping options.
Instead of going online and posting comments expressing empathy or sympathy for farmers and regional communities, Australians can click, buy and spend to make a genuine, practical difference.
NSW Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes has also established another simple but successful campaign through the 'Go Country For Christmas' website, which is also connecting regional businesses with metropolitan consumers, to drive pragmatic outcomes.
The website has over 260 drought affected businesses registered, with some also impacted by recent fires, and is urging Australian consumers to buy at least one Christmas gift this year for friends and family, through the online service.
Senator Hughes has also asked other Federal MPs to make a $200 contribution to fund the website costs in a move that's produced a positive form of political unity at Christmas time with contributions from all quarters, including the Prime Minister.
The innovative thinking behind these campaigns has helped to generate positive media attention, which is giving city folk a greater insight into the high level of diversity and common-sense creativity that we all know is happening in the regions.
That's why we love living in regional Australia and will continue doing what we can, while harnessing our collective innovative energies, to keep our communities strong and upbeat about the future.
- Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer and as managing director of Seftons.