There is no doubt that Australian agriculture is kicking some big goals at present, and optimism is high across the industry.
Commodity prices remain strong and weather conditions favourable for many, while reports on machinery sales show record-breaking trends - the Tractor and Machinery Association revealed last week that many dealers reported 2021 was their best year ever for tractor sales.
It's an exciting time to be involved in what I consider the best industry in Australia.
With innovation, technological advances, the enthusiasm of the young people moving through ag's ranks and the enormous potential of growing and emerging global markets, we should be feeling upbeat and optimistic about the future and what it holds.
At the same time, though, vulnerabilities in our supply chain have again been exposed, with COVID-19 impacts singled out initially - both here and abroad - and then exacerbated by unpredictable weather patterns that have caused havoc in recent years and months. Goods across various sectors have been in short supply, and prices have reflected these shortages.
It equates to more pressure on the hip pocket of consumers and increases the cost of doing business for farming communities.
In my local area, one business rep said recently that freight costs had more than tripled in the past 12 months due to a whole raft of reasons out of anyone's control, with rising fuel costs and increasing prices around other critical inputs all contributing to the cost blow-out.
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All of these factors must be communicated to consumers clearly and concisely - rising input costs, flooding, ongoing staff shortages and labour challenges all take a toll on the supply chain, right up the line to the endpoint: the customer.
This is the ideal time for an awareness/education campaign that outlines the complexity of farming systems and the broader supply chain, rather than just the usual lament from a farm business that can too easily be interpreted as yet another 'poor me' from a 'complaining' farmer.
Instead, show consumers just what it costs and takes to produce the food and fibre many take for granted and expect to pay little for - drill down into each step and demonstrate, too, that probably for the first time in decades, we, the consumers are finally having to pay something approaching the 'real costs' associated with this supply.
And our farmers are usually the last ones afforded the luxury of passing their increasing costs down the line.
The pressures on our supply chains will continue, exerted by a whole raft of factors.
And we must take consumers along for that journey, raising awareness and helping establish realistic expectations and robust support for our homegrown goods and industries.
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