Is this society now terminal?

How will we recover from social isolation?

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Under the pink hat at a cattle sale at Wodonga. Photo: Rachael Webb

Under the pink hat at a cattle sale at Wodonga. Photo: Rachael Webb

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How will agriculture respond post COVID-19?

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We have been warned!

Our species has been put on notice: the natural world will no longer tolerate the abuse it has taken for centuries and only exaggerated by recent avarice.

A minute organism, unable to be seen except through a microscope has brought the world as we have enjoyed to a grinding halt.

Invisible to a naked eye yet more powerful than any despotic politician, more devastating than the Global Financial Crisis and more destructive than a nuclear war head, COVID-19 has the power to threaten our continued existence.

While all governments around the globe grapple with the economic and diplomatic consequences, the virus continues its insidious journey through society and without respect to rank, religion, wealth or geography.

Whatever its origins, blame should be apportioned to all who have been or are still consuming the natural world faster than the resources can be generated.

In particular has been the expectation of cheap food, cheap clothing, cheap travel, expensive housing and objectionable wages for few.

That expectation of cheap food, in particular, has put enormous pressure on the production system including the soil, the animals and those who work on and care for the land.

Few farmers will say they are producing foodstuffs to feed the world; they are not altruistic.

Before any concern about the wider population, they farm to feed their families, to educate their children and to enjoy a reasonable standard of living from their work and investment.

Food is the core of our existence but it should not be produced at the expense of a landscape in decline.

While we consider the current impact of COVID-19, what does it all mean for the future of agriculture, globally and at home?

The immediate impact on our agricultural systems is the difficulty experienced by our international trading partners in being able to process their imports through a logistics system already under pressure due to social isolation requirements

No doubt the international demand for our primary products will continue and perhaps consumers will come to accept a higher price has to be paid to preserve continued supply.

It must be of some concern when animals which have been bred and husbanded for slaughter have to be destroyed due to the lack of processing ability as happened in the US.

That is a moral issue all society must acknowledge.

At home, the interest in farmers markets and home gardening indicate a concern for food security and food health.

Hope might be in that primordial interest.

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