Ron Boswell get over yourself. Oz farmers are proud of what we and we are confident we will stand up to scrutiny

From The Australian this morning

Beef initiative ‘green thuggery’ SID MAHER APRIL 23, 2014 12:00A

 

A LEADING Australian trade expert has warned farmers that an environmental sustainability initiative for the beef industry, being promoted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and backed by the Cattle Council of Australia, risks tying farmers up in green tape and is a move designed by environmentalists to “control farming’’.

I just don’t get why people like Ron Boswell et al seem determined to undermine partnership initiatives like this between beef farmers and NGO’s like WWF. Senator Boswell et al please don’t try to tell me Australians farmers aren’t dedicated to striving to achieve the best outcomes they possibly can for people, animals, places and a fair return for their efforts doesn’t underpin everything they do 

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Doing the right thing is not an impost its an honour and a legacy ( see footnote for explanation of the graphic )

Surely Senator Boswell et al you will agree all committed Australian farmers who are in it for the long haul are aspiring for excellence . Setting voluntary goals that the Cattle Council and WWF are working towards allows us to take it to the next step and have some measurables to back up our claims. Measurables are not an impost they are claims Australian farmers can make with integrity.

I judge organisations like WWF on their ethos and  people they employ to help deliver it. Backing up my point please take the time and listen to this fantastic TED talk by WWF’s Jason Clay 

I have worked with the WWF in this country and I am comfortable with what they are trying to achieve. In fact I will be showcasing former Cattle Council Rising Beef Champion, beef farmer and now WWF team member Ian McConnel and WWF’s Change the Way You Live campaign  to students as part of the Archibull Prize this year   

Well done Cattle Council and well done to Dairy Australia who are holding similar talks and throwing this brilliant piece of work on the table for comment by all parties.

 

Footnote – Some food for thought -  source

Create Value

At the top of the equilateral triangle, representing economic growth, is the effective pursuit of “profit”. In order for sustainable agriculture to achieve its goals, it must fully embrace the profit motive. This motive requires that developments deliver maximum present and future value to stakeholders by being driven by market demand, and that they do so in the most efficient means possible within the holistic triple-bottom-line perspective.

Accept Responsibility

The “people” leg of the equilateral triangle represents the social responsibility of industry professionals to recognize that project design affects a broad level of human well-being. Society requires and benefits greatly from gaining a greater sense of connectedness; having greater access to quality food, shelter, health care needs, as well as work, creative, recreational and educational opportunities; preserving its cultural and biological heritages; being safe; accessing cultural enrichment opportunities; respecting the diversity of its people; and participating in its own governance. Within the context of natural laws, it is every individual’s right to maximize these social opportunities, and it is part of agriculture’s responsibility to foster the culture to enable these opportunities to more readily occur.

Model Nature

The pure “planet” leg of the triangle recognizes the ultimate value and supreme intelligence of our natural world. Our environment offers an infinite number of time tested and successful patterns, designs and structures from the most minuscule particles, to expressions of life discernible by human eyes, to the greater cosmos. We must not only respect our natural world for its power to sustain us, but as we change and modify it, understanding its workings will lead us to the ultimate solutions we require to sustain ourselves. Make no mistake, the earth will survive. It is our societies which may be in peril. Using an ecological standard to judge our innovations will help us determine which solutions will work, and which solutions will withstand the difficult and ultimate test of time.

Eliminate Waste

Emanating from the creation of economic value is the concept of eliminating waste. Waste reduces profit, and as a result must be eliminated, but it won’t be easy. Eliminating waste requires strong visionary leadership that can transform a liability into an asset. It requires team-building, the development of greater trust, and getting a previously fragmented group of people working more effectively together. That is indeed a challenging task, but its relentless pursuit is absolutely necessary if we hope to achieve sustainability.

Quality of Life

Building from our social responsibilities is the understanding that the values our society espouses, and in fact, the spiritual “lift” we gain are more important than the material items we can own and consume. We must value and focus on the “soul” of our lives, for it is the root of true happiness and quality of life.

Energy Flows

Emanating from nature’s model is our understanding of the natural long-term energy flows which emanate from the sun, and are captured by plants, some of which are eaten by animals, which then (along with plants) cycle the energy into the earth, which stores it and ultimately feeds our plants again. Our short-term oriented consumption of these energy stores is seriously disrupting the cycle, and we must learn how to respect, protect and utilize these natural energy flows.

Share Knowledge

Between the “profit” and “people” ideals is the recognition that, as we progress deeper and deeper into sustainable land development, we must be willing and able to share the knowledge we gain with the other stakeholders throughout the world. Our industry has many areas of specialization, and in order for anyone to effectively develop the requisite holistic perspective, we must seek to better understand and address the needs of all the stakeholders throughout the process.

Humans and Nature Co-exist

Rather than man dominating nature, or man being required to avoid nature, there must be a recognition that man and nature can and do co-exist. With this recognition comes an understanding that man must benefit from nature, but that nature must also benefit from man.

Recognize Interdependence

Between the “profit” and “planet” ideals, and stretching to the very epicenter of the triangle is the understanding that we must recognize – in fact maximize the effectiveness of – our interdependent relationships. This interdependence exists not only among industry professionals, but with society as a whole – as well as cause and effect in the natural world. This principle of interconnectedness, inseparability and union provides us with a continuous reminder of our relationship to the whole, a blueprint for the sustainability of our work.

The solutions we seek reside within this fractal model. As we dig deeper and deeper, the model replicates itself, becoming infinitely complex, yet always maintaining the necessary holistic, triple-bottom-line perspective.

Government is a Partner, But Private Industry Must Lead

As we move forward, we must do so in partnership with government, but ultimately, solutions must emanate from the bottom up, not the top down. History has proven that top-down solutions rarely solve the problems they purport to address, and they often create new ones in their wake. It is the private, profit-driven members of the industry itself that can and must take advantage of the opportunity to not only reverse the negative image the industry has been given, but to become the absolute heroes of our time. It’s a momentous opportunity, and the time is right to seize it.

Today’s reality is that the “people” are driving demand for practices that steward the “planet.” To date, the single-minded pursuit of “profit” has been an impediment to truly sustainable development, but as adopters continue to pave the way by incorporating more holistic new – yet proven – practices, the time is rapidly approaching that supply will begin to meet demand.

Are you ready to participate in the bold new world in which we live – where socially responsible and eco-friendly practices not only boost your bottom line, but are required for survival? That world is closer than you may think, and our goal is to help you achieve it. There are a host of emerging technologies, products, perspectives, knowledge assets, and other resources necessary to enable professionals throughout the industry to make it happen. Stay tuned, as they say. There’s much more to come.

Republished from the May, 2007 issue of Sustainable Land Development Today magazine

* Note have replaced the word ‘development’ with ‘agriculture’  to put into context

Social media denatured

This morning I had an email from some-one with a request for me send out some information to dairy farmers from their organisation via twitter

I was wondering if you could utilise your amazing twitter network.

It was important stuff but I was realistic in directing that person elsewhere because I knew no matter how “amazing’ my twitter network may or may not be we just don’t have too many dairy farmers active on twitter.

Is it important that dairy farmers be on Twitter? I will let them decide that for themselves. What I know is thanks to Twitter I am now aware Barry O’Farrell has resigned and he wont be celebrating his new career with a bottle of Grange

I am on Twitter thanks to wise advice from Flourish Communications’ Victoria Taylor who recently attended Ragan Communication’s Social Media for Corporate Communications and Public Relations Conference, in Florida earlier this month. See Victoria’s posts on her trip here

Social Media explained

What I do know is it is very important for me and the organisations like Art4Agriculture I work with to reach out to the people we want to reach by being on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and LinkedIn and now Victoria tells me Pinterest (why do I seem to find that one a bit above my IQ level at the moment – Help Pinterest guru needed)

Apparently I ( and my associated Twitter, Facebook et al accounts) have a Klout factor of over 50 ( eyes glaze over – whatever ) and this is good because I (et al) am reaching our target audience

This has been well and truly reinforced this year as our entry surveys results for both schools participating in Archibull Prize and applicants for the Young Farming Champions program show they all heard good things about us predominately via social media/ word of mouth.

What’s extra awesome about this is we are attracting people who are excited about the things we are excited about and like us want to use multimedia and new media to share the stories we want to share.

Should dairy farmers be on Twitter to engage with other farmers? All I can say is there are some awesome farmers on Twitter and you can pick and choose who you engage with and how much you get out of it.

Big bonus is you can engage with the people who buy what you produce. If it works for  Coca Cola surely it can work for farmers and agriculture. Like it or not no matter what we think we have to be where our audience is in the 21st century.  Give it a try and once you have mastered Twitter please help me master Pinterest   

If you need further convincing check out this infographic found here

Social Media Infographic

Hats off to Joanna Baker a young lady who can deliver no matter what the challenges

This year’s speaker of the year under pressure must go to the inspirational Joanna Baker co-founder of Youth Food Movement Australia.

Joanna was the guest speaker at the NSW Farm Writers Association Agribuzz Event at the Sky Deck at the Main Arena at the Sydney Royal Easter last night

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The venue was spectacular

Skydeck

The cocktails and canapés were divine, networking opportunities to mingle with the leading and emerging minds of agriculture abounded

But things just ran a little too smoothly in the main arena at the show and instead of Joanna having 15 mins to share her story with the Agribuzz crowd between main arena events she had to do over top of all these events

First of it was the rodeo, then the campdraft, then barrel races, the arena commentary throughout all these events and all that climaxed with the bikes and lots of loud clapping.

 

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As you can see from this series of photos I took Joanna speaks from the heart.

Excitingly she is not a lone voice.  She leads a team of young people (7,000 plus who aspire to be a collective voice for young Australians so that together they can have their say in the decisions that impact our food future.

Joanna and her team are 100% committed to helping build a new generation of young people who are aware of their power as conscious consumers by building understanding and value for the food we eat.

Joanna has a great story to tell, a great message to disseminate, she reached all of us in the audience last night (despite the challenges).

Lets all work together to promote public understanding of farming, and the interconnectedness of health and nutrition and the agricultural sector. After all our country’s health, wealth and happiness depends on it

Check out the website  See how you can get involved

 

 

Nature is cruel but we don’t have to be. We owe them respect

How amazing is this movie

Temple Grandin

I cried and cried

I touched the first cow that was being stunned. In a few seconds it was going to be just another piece of beef, but in that moment it was still an individual. It was calm… and then it was gone.

Of course they’re gonna get slaughtered. You think we’d have cattle if people didn’t eat ‘em everyday? They’d just be funny-lookin’ animals in zoos. But we raise them for us. That means we owe them some respect. Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be. I would’nt want to have my guts ripped out by a lion, I’d much rather die in a slaughterhouse if it was done right. Temple Grandin

Wow. Now to find the tissues

and a special salute to our very own trail blazer Catherine Marriott on Channel 10

Maz

 

I became aware of how precious life was. I thought about death and I felt close to God. I don’t want my thoughts to die with me. I want to have done something. Temple Grandin

Finally one for everyone who has ever sat in the passenger side of the farm vehicle and wished Temple Grandin worked on their farm ( those who have seen the movie will know what I mean)

Opening the gate

Hello Coles its tough being the villain in the story

Every great story has a hero and a villain

This story is all about the hero

Meet Cassandra MacDonald. A young lady who loves everything about the Australian dairy industry

Cassandra McDonald

A young lady who is determined to achieve her dream of being a large animal vet no matter how long it takes

A young lady with considerable artistic talent that she is using for the greater good

A young lady who took on one of the most powerful forces in the Australian supermarket sector and won

Today we salute Cassandra MacDonald

A young lady who stood up to Coles and won

Cassie said

I wanted to show people everyone can make a difference by sharing their story

I wanted the message to reach as many people as it can.

I wanted to show that if you have an important story to tell people will listen

I hope consumers will stop and think about what exactly is happening.

I hope they think about the choices they make

Today the ACCC said via this story from Milk Wars; Coles admits to errors in Campaign

 That Coles spruiked a rosy picture of the dairy industry at the height of the $1 milk wars last year using data it could not substantiate

The supermarket giant has conceded it relied on figures that could not be proven when it claimed that shaving the price of a two-litre milk container from $2.41 to $2 early last year would increase farm-gate prices for producers and lift national dairy production.

Coles has agreed to correct the claims, admitting to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that its social media advertising blitz “would be likely to have” breached consumer law that prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct.

This story is about people standing up and being counted about what’s important to them and using the skills sets and the knowledge they have to get the best outcomes for everyone.

We should all salute those people who put the greater good first because sometimes “fair is equaland today the ACCC proved like Cassie we can all stand up and be counted and make a difference.

Its an absolute honour to know you Cassie and on behalf of farmers everywhere I salute you

 

A2 Milk snake oil merchants in the firing line

I am a bit a crusader and this week the snake oil phenomenon is on my radar.

Little bit of background

Every parent sweats the nine months their child is in the womb waiting for the moment the child is born and doctor says “we’ve got five fingers and five toes”

When that doesn’t happen parents tend to go into overdrive and investigate every piece of science and technology to provide the best possible life for their child. Sometimes their love takes them into the unproven science behind cure-alls.

When I was born I had five fingers and toes but about 6 months down the track it became clear that for me everything wasn’t clear, in fact my world was very blurry. On top of this there seemed to be some serious problems with my legs.

So my parents moved heaven and earth to get the best possible science and technology to fix their little girl and they (and me) in the main where rewarded for their efforts

But despite many, many operations, visits to doctors/specialists, eye patches etc. etc. their little girl would always wear glasses and that made them sad.

 

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I think I was about 3 when this photo was taken. Pink dress, pink glasses, pink everything. No doubt about it if I had to wear glasses my mother always made sure I did it with style. Can you believe 50 years later those cats eye glasses are back in fashion.    

Wearing glasses in those days wasn’t trendy and every new (proven) thing that came along they made sure I was first in line to take every advantage. On hard contact lenses, soft contact lenses, throw away contact lenses a small fortune was spent but it wasn’t to be glasses became a fixture of my life for 5 plus decades.

But this has all changed. For the past 12 months my eyesight had been rapidly deteriorating, my eyes where really sore and I had permanent headaches. After spending 5 plus decades knowing what is was like to be blind by just taking my glasses off I was starting to get pretty frightened. Having spent my childhood in more hospitals that most people have been in their lifetime I tend to avoid hospitals and doctors like the plague. So I kept putting of the investigative procedures that would get to the bottom of my diminishing eyesight.

But sometimes when you bite the bullet it can lead to good news. I wasn’t going blind I had cataracts (though of course cataract can lead to blindness) Today modern technology means that people with cataracts can often get 20:20 vision. Though I am still finding it hard to believe my cataract operation has given me 20:20 vision in one eye and John and Robyn’s little girl doesn’t have to wear glasses anymore (beyond the “chemist glasses” – and yes I bought the cats eye frames – for reading)

Now when the specialist told me the result I cried with happiness and sadness. Sadness because Robyn died four years ago and she would never know. My mother and I never really got on but she would have been the first person I rang to tell this news because above all I knew she loved me very much and it would have made her the happiest person on the planet.

Now what does all this have to do with the snake oil phenomenon. Well my parents took the high road and followed science and science delivered for them.

This doesn’t always happen and in these cases parents often turn to the unproven and I for one am not going to judge them for that. Everybody who has had a child knows they become your life’s work.

But when I see websites like this The Food Intolerance Network that make claims that A2 milk is a cure-all for almost every evil under the sun, including apparently autism it makes me really cranky.

Now A2 milk is definitely trendy and sales are on the rise and if you happen to have cows with A2 DNA they definitely sell at a premium I can vouch for that.

But the evidence is all anecdotal yet this website quotes this study

There is a medical report of allergies managed by camel milk, which also contains a2 beta casein protein. In this study, eight children with severe food (mainly milk) allergies recovered fully from their allergies by drinking camel milk.

Mmh Camel milk, eight study participants I rest my case

I don’t have a problem with A2 milk per se. If I need to buy milk and A2 just happens to have the longest dating and I need milk with long dating I will buy it but that is the only reason.

Milk is good for you. There is no scientific evidence to say A2 is better than any other milk and its certainly no worse than other milks and I have no problem with it having a place in the supermarket fridge. But as a cure-all it is in the quackery aisle.  

It’s time for the quacks and snake oil merchants to leave the room and lets all hope it doesn’t take 5 plus decades to find a genuine scientific positive outcome for autism because I have seen the pain first hand and it is just morally wrong to give people false hope

The art of story telling agriculture must get it right and the time is now

As per my previous post What is Fair Food? the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance has launched its new initiative to create a strong and independent voice for Australian farmers. Fair Food Farmers United will be a platform to connect, support and provide a united voice for farmers feeding Australia fairly.

According to their press release their aims are too

  • provide a balanced voice to represent farmers who are at the sharp end of the impacts of free trade,
  • raise awareness about the impacts of cheap imports on farmers
  • advocate for fair pricing for farmers selling to the domestic markets
  • connect Australian farmers for farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing
  • be a voice for farmer-friendly regulations and standards.

Read more on the AFSA website

The majority of people attracted to this initiative in the first instance are farmers who are cutting out the middle man and dealing directly with the public. This gives them a unique insight into consumer images and expectations of farmers and how important it is to meet or exceed those consumer expectations if you want to sell your product at a premium and get a FAIR return for your efforts. As I mentioned in my previous post FAIR means different things to different people. Now is the right time to get into the  FAIR FOOD space. As a segment on the Checkout ( See Value for Money – Tuna) last night showed there is a clear rise in the number of people choosing ethics over value and voting with their wallets at the supermarket checkout and farmers markets and the like.

Fair Food Farmer United know that if they want to get real traction now and achieve their aims they must get into the hearts and minds and wallets of consumers aka voters.

I have been a long term advocate of farmers having direct connection with consumers with a strong focus on finding ways to innovatively do this in a way farmers are comfortable with. One of the most successful initiatives is the highly innovative Art4Agriculture programs which include the Archibull Prize and the Young Farming Champions program

I will be the first to admit its pretty scary and a huge responsibility to advocate on behalf of industry and I was reminded the other day that even after 10 years of doing it I am still uncomfortable in this space.

I had a message on my phone from Radio National indicating Bush Telegraph wanted to do a story. So I rang back with butterflies in my stomach as per usual wondering what it was and how long it would take me to prepare to ensure I got the key messages spot on

I was overwhelmed with relief when they didn’t want me. Excitingly in the first instance the ABC reads the Art4AgricultureChat blog and secondly wanted to interview one of our young team of farming champions Danila Marini about her research.

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Sheep are smart and so is Danila

Thirdly I was absolutely thrilled how excited she was and didn’t hesitate to say yes. This is a great example of engaging and nurturing the young to build their capacity to sell agriculture’s story with confidence and most importantly build their capacity to do it with charisma and resonate with our key audience.

There is no denying its a given a key issue for agriculture is the continual need to strive for sustainability – but what is sustainable? Having farm systems that ensure the environment and productive capacities can co-exist in the long-term is the standard take on the definition. Like it or not sustainable agriculture is also about creating value for our products in our consumer base, that ensures consistent and long-term demand.

Consumer choice is as big a threat to our industry as climate change/variability, international competitiveness or government policy.

We need to create partnerships right along our supply chain to develop relationships that enable farmers and consumers to make informed decisions about the trade-offs inherent in their choices and our production systems. Consumers have accepted $1 milk and cheap/imported food more generally, so it is up to agriculture to articulate and share why we don’t believe that is a choice that will deliver a sustainable future.

If consumers do not value farm output, then no amount of innovation, productivity gain or government support is going to deliver a sustainable industry into the future.

We need to reconnect with our consumers. Modern supply chains mean farmers have never been so isolated from their end-consumer.

Therefore we need to develop the capacity of our people, so they are knowledgeable and are comfortable in addressing all issues and stakeholders along the entire supply/value chain in order to re-build these relationships.

This will mean farmers and others working in agriculture taking a higher profile role in the lives of our consumers, current and future.

This will mean farmers proactively engaging with processors and supermarkets to develop mutually beneficial relationships ensuring value is delivered at all points along the supply/value chain – including farmers, processors, retailers and consumers.

The last thing we need is another advocacy group cluttering an already overcrowded space but I believe if Fair Food Farmers United get it right they are off to a great start with the key audience then they may just build the partnerships necessary to deliver an advocacy success story for agriculture