Despite significant challenges facing the industry, it truly is such an exciting time to be in agriculture in Australia. The advancements in technology and innovative practices alone are mind-blowing.
Tash Kocks said Australia really does have some of the greatest minds in global agriculture and it was a privilege to hear them speak at the Global Foods Forum a few weeks ago.
The impressive line-up of speakers at the Forum covered crucial issues and challenges that are shaping Australia’s $150 billion agribusiness sector’s future—including economic challenges, food security, AI and agribusiness innovation, trade with China, investment in the sector, geopolitical stability, diversification of exports and markets, and sustainability.
“While it was a great learning experience and opportunity to spark conversations with purpose-driven, like-minded organisations, I left the Forum with a sense of disconnectedness between the opportunities and challenges of the industry as a whole through the lens of the corporate giants and the opportunities and challenges of independent farming operations—the farmers that Aussie Helpers is committed to supporting.
“Farming corporations operate with executive management teams, external consultants, big budgets, sales and marketing teams, and the latest in agronomy and agtech. They absolutely experience business challenges—but they also benefit from deeper resources to help navigate and respond to these challenges,” said Tash.
Tash said that 99% of Aussie farms were estimated to be operated by families. Almost 30% didn’t employ staff and almost 38% employed just one or two people.
“The challenges they face are economic and environmental, just like the corporate giants, but they don’t have the same capacity to weather the storms. And, they also have to do it all—run the farm, run the business, run the family, meet the bills, regenerate and futureproof for the next generation—it goes on.
“Aussie farmers bear a heavy load—and they’re doing a bloody good job.
“Since the Forum, I’m focused on finding a way to bridge the divide in the national conversation about the industry through the lens of corporate giants, and the industry through the lens of the farmers Aussie Helpers supports.
“The current conversation isn’t representative of the wider industry, and I believe it’s contributing to a disconnect between Aussies from the city and from the bush,” said Tash.
In a recent Aussie Helpers survey of farmers in western Queensland and New South Wales, 87% said they thought metropolitan Australia has a lower awareness of and appreciation for farming and food production than before. The story of farming that represents the majority of Aussie farmers, of what it takes to feed a family—and feed the nation—just isn’t being told.
Tash said conversations about agriculture and food production needed to be more representative of the industry—and be inclusive of independent farmers.
“I’m determined to champion and celebrate the little guys, so that more Aussies know and appreciate where their food comes from.”