Leaving the land better than how you found it

Many in the farming industry often ask, what is a farms biggest asset?  Obviously opinions vary, but is it soil, water, machinery or human resources?  Some would say a combination of all, but should it just be the old adage of “leaving the land better than how you found it”?  The more you travel to different areas, the more you can see how, over time it seems harder and harder for farmers to achieve the protection of their assets.

The Question

Where does the responsibility lie for farmers to leave their owned or leased land in better shape than how they found it? 

  • Does the buyer of a farmers produce have any responsibility towards Australian land quality to ensure their long term success and viability of supply to the consumer?
  • Should the consumer be made aware of what it takes to maintain and improve land to ensure adequate future food supply by industry?
  • Is it a government’s role to enforce industry measures or does that just come under the banner of “Farm Subsidies” of Europe and USA?
  • Or is it just the farmer’s responsibility no matter what they are being paid for their produce and with no government assistance?

Let’s have a deeper look.

The Produce Buyers

Australia is somewhat unique in the monopoly of our supermarkets and their buying power. Not wanting to divide or favour any specific farming group, but horticulture growers seem to have the worst of this specific situation.

From the supermarkets point, it is smart business – buy direct off the farmer through initial higher price incentives rather than through the markets, get more and more growers to grow more of the same crop creating more competition within crops and then make contracts gradually harder to meet on product specs.  There you have the perfect recipe to control pricing.  Then add in, if pricing for a crop does get too expensive from a supermarkets view point, they have the authority to import. 

Some growers have been able to evade some of these pressures with smarter marketing and creating their own brands while others are large enough to sustain a certain amount of pressure, but they all have to manage it to a varying degree    

The Industry & the Consumer

We see supermarkets run their TV ads promoting their support to the Australian farmer, the “how good are we” mantra. Then the next ad is promoting prices down down down!!

The question then is – where are our farming representatives on these matters.  Yes the NFF and state farming bodies do their political role quite well, but where are their goals when it comes to the consumer?   

Let’s face it, all that really matters to farmers and the supermarkets is the consumer, the end user.  The supermarkets manipulate and educate consumers thinking. Their model is convenience, price and how food should look, to a point now that if produce has a mark on it, it is not edible. 

If these supermarkets can manipulate the consumer why can’t the farming or industry bodies fight back more with some truth in advertising?  Let the public know how supermarkets can treat a farmer, how taste and health of produce is what really matters, even with a few bumps and marks.  Let them know what it costs to grow the product and what on average farmers get paid and then what they as a consumer pay.  Surely it’s time for our farming industry to stick up for itself and have these bodies talk to decision makers – consumers rather politicians making false promises.

The small independent grocer, butcher or wholesaler working with farmers is trying make a difference, but surely they need more industry support to get more public support. 

We have heard Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest say we need to “improve branding and marketing of Australian farm produce to help turbo-charge economic gains achieved through tariff cuts delivered via the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement”, which I would agree with, but don’t we need to also do this at home to our consumers? 

Sustainable Food Supply

Like any business, farmers need to invest into infrastructure and the maintenance, improvement of assets; but if you’re not being rewarded well or fairly then it is hard to maintain, let alone improve that investment.

So surely we all have some part to play to ensure a sustainable food supply now and for future generations.

Farmers Can Start Today

As much as we would like to change the supermarkets, governments and push industry bodies it is difficult, (albeit we will keep working on it with others bit by bit).

But we can right here, right now help farmers cost effectively start improving their soil. It is well documented globally that many current fertiliser practices and not undertaking any sustainable farming practices cannot be the pathway to meet future food demands.

For our 20 years in the industry we have and continue to constantly find ways to make land/soil improvement management practices more economical and more practical to normal fertilisation practices that can play their part in helping farmers meet future food demands.

The Best of Both Worlds

Little steps of adding the best of synthetic fertilisers with the best bio stimulants and organic catalysts can make big differences on short term crop health and long term soil and root health. By utilising the highest quality of raw ingredients we are able to achieve broad-spectrum bio stimulant technology that can make these little steps a simple, cost effective process today, even when others in the chain are not helping. 

Farming companies that are implementing these softer, results driven technologies, are seeing farm workers and owners in a safer working environment and the improvement of their soils is a natural buffer to extreme circumstances that nature can throw at us. We all know soils with greater organic matter can retain more water, reduce abiotic crop stress and just perform better and our product options are helping them build it.

If you want to learn more call or email us. 1800 207 009 or info@ecocatalysts.com.au