There are a number of interlinked issues that play in my mind when I think about the future of Australia’s agricultural industry. The negatives being: climate change that impacts on crop production, more dry spells/unpredictable weather, high labour costs and an ageing/shrinking workforce, urbanisation and its pressure on farming land, shrinking regional populations, rising fresh food prices, the availability of cheaper food imports, the supermarket duopoly and their influence on food prices and consumer desires for “perfect looking” fruit and veg.
With every downside, I see the upsides too — like the awareness and desire for small scale producers driven by our gourmet palettes, the growing interest in the number of produce markets, changing consumer palettes (my favourite example of this is seeing premium grass or grain fed beef sold along regular beef) and reality television programs like My Kitchen Rules who are inspiring a new generation of cook-at-home-chefs wanting “quality” produce.
But is this enough to change the balance?
Many months ago, I made a donation to support the GV Food Co-op having read about their plight to keep a growers region alive. It was that moment that sunk into my mind deeply that everyone had a role in helping to address