The world is so confused about sustainability and what it really takes to deliver it

I have been meaning to write a blog post about the proliferation of the ongoing growth of what I call little golden booking farming mentality. This week I was spurned into action when a colleague emailed me this link. As you can see the dairy industry isn’t the only one on their radar. They also comment on the beef, fish industries et al under the Hungry for Info tab.

Its a beautiful website, obviously started by some very passionate people doing some great things.  This initiative also has some very credible people backing it as do a number of people who promote similar farming enterprises. I have no problem at all with people who want to farm using these philosophies but I want to use this post to debunk some of the very naive thinking that underpins this ethos and makes me really cranky by promoting it by deriding large scale farming practices

Lets start with sustainable intensification which underpins Clover Hill Dairies farming practices. Like it or not ( emotively calling some types of sustainable intensification ‘factory farming’ ) sustainable intensification IS the best farming practice for the planet. Ensuring that it is a good outcome for animals relies not on the concept but the people in the business. To get the best outcomes for animals everyone in the system from management to staff have to be totally committed to best practice animal husbandry and well being.  And yes having been there done that you have to be very dedicated indeed to closing the loop to get the best outcomes for the environment. BTW I am confident from what I have seen the majority of farmers are

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Clover Hill’s message… intensified farming and the environment can happily coexist .. leaving an impression of farming as consumers would like it to be: productive, environmentally sustainable and picturesque. Matt Cawood The Land

The reasons sustainable farming delivers the best outcomes for the planet are explained very well  by Jude Capper in my post on Little Golden Book farming.

Explaining it is not always easy and I recently gave a presentation to the Young Farming Champions to start the conversation and workshop sustainable farming concepts with the help of one of Australia’s leading marketing gurus to enable the team to clearly and simply share what it takes to sustainably farm in the 21st century with school students

Here it is my presentation

 

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Sustainability definition from the heart

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Triple bottom line

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My favourite triple bottom line definition

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This slide is from the marketing guru’s presentation – suggesting we replace responsive with proactive

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Australian farmers are sustainable farming trailblazers. They are very successfully doing what every person on  the planet should be doing ie ‘ doing more with less’

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For farmers MORE means producing more food and fibre. Less means using less natural resources

Why is this so important

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Because we only have one planet and our natural resources are shrinking. Scaringly on the opposite end of the spectrum 158 more mouths to feed are born every minute. 154 of them in developing countries

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In 2010 globally we are consuming enough resources for one and a half planets. In Australia we are chewing up the equivalent of resources for two planets.

It is obvious this NOT sustainable and as this excellent slide (courtesy of Rabobank) clearly show we need to rapidly reduce out use of natural resources

Why are Aussie farmers leading the way –  FYI these stats are via NFF see here

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In 1950 when cars looked like this and farmers drove tractors like this I Australian farmer fed 20 people

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In 1970 when cars looked like this and farmers drove tractors like this 1 Australian farmer fed 200 people

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In 2014 when cars look like this and farmers have technology that drives tractors 1 Australian farmer feeds 600 people (Note 1 American farmer feeds 170 people)

Yet there are a growing number of people like Sustainable Table that truly believe ( sadly ) that we can feed the world by farming like we did in the 50’s. As I said earlier I have no problem at all with people choosing to farm in this way ( would love to give it a go myself)  and there is definitely a demographic of people who can afford to pay top dollar ( and so they should ) for produce grown this way

But we cannot feed the world by everyone farming this way. We just don’t have enough land, water and energy and I implore the people backing little golden book initiatives and farming practices to STOP telling people you can. Its wrong and its dangerous

People have every right to ask questions about the technology and science that allows our farmers to feed 600 people. All I ask is that you make sure you are fully informed and not basing your decisions on emotion alone

Technology and science mean large scale farmers can

  1. Grow more crop on less land
  2. Get more crop per drop of water
  3. More Kg of beef per beast
  4. More kg of wool per sheep
  5. More pasture per hectare
  6. Graze more cows per hectare
  7. Produce more milk per cow
  8. Use less fertilizer per crop
  9. Use less pesticide per crop
  10. Less water per litre of milk

All of these outcomes are good for the planet.Slide17

The majority of farmers producing more with less is the only road to sustainability. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about large scale commercial agriculture and agriculture has a lot of work to do to ensure the community is informed and comfortable with modern farming practices. May we always refrain from promoting what we do by deriding other farming practices,

Lets start by throwing our support behind all the wonderful Australian farmers using diverse farming systems, small and big who wake up every day looking for ways to do it better

BTW

Interesting recent article here asking the question How Long Do We Have Until We Exhaust All Of Our Resources? and very very worryingly coming up with the answer just a few decades.

Some further thoughts from Jude Capper Beef is killing the Planet and Elvis is Riding a Rainbow Belching Unicorn 

and I love and applaud this speech from President Obama on Climate Change 

 

 

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Milking the supply chain formula

This post by Marian MacDonald Bring on the Cows demands a New Routine has inspired me to write a post about one of my favourite topics.

 How do we deliver affordable, nutritious, ethically produced food to Australian consumers and ensure that EVERYONE in the supply chain chain gets their fair share of the return on investment?

One way we (farmers) can do this is to own the the really big players in the supply chain and farmers have tried that.  Lets use farmer group Wesfarmers as an example.  Wesfarmers bought Coles and look how well that turned out for farmers Coles admits to threatening suppliers.

If we go back to Marian who is one of the many Australian dairy farmers who own the milk  cooperative  Murray Goulburn (MG) we have an example of farmers owning the other end of the supply chain – the raw product and its manufacturer.

Is it also a great example of beneficial outcomes for farmers and if not why isn’t it working.?

I think this statement by  MG CEO Gary Helou gets to the core of the majority of farmers supply chain challenges.      

“We are not farmers; MG is a global dairy food processing and milk company, and we will not be buying farms directly; that is not our business,” Helou says adamantly.

Yes Mr Helou is right when he says  ‘MG is a global dairy food processing and milk company,’ but he is is very wrong when he says ‘We are not farmers’.  Rubbish Murray Goulburn IS farmers. Farmers who also own a very large ‘global dairy food processing and milk company’ and farms are a BIG part of MG’s business. MG have a co-operative structure partnership with thousands of them – over 3000 in fact.

Mr Helou is not alone in forgetting the importance of a ‘we are all in this together’ communication strategy and mindset when talking to stakeholders, farmers have an equal role to play here.

Sadly this  ‘them and us’ mindset has become so entrenched, victim mentality rules and farmers feel disenfranchised

How many farmers do you meet who have regular meetings with their supply chain partners?

How many farmers do you know that proactively engage with processors and supermarkets to develop mutually beneficial relationships ensuring value is delivered at all points along the supply/value chain.

I can count the number of farmers I know that do that on one hand.

If you are like me and agree the only way forward to achieve a profitable and sustainable agrifood sector future is strong, healthy supply chain relationships in which our farmers are empowered, active participants then we need to change the current culture of ‘talking and doing’.  

I believe the first question we need to ask to is WHY  the current supply chain culture that greatly disadvantages farmers ( and almost everyone else except the supermarkets) exists and once we have a consensus on the WHY lets figure out HOW we change it and  then DO it.  

Back to the owning parts or all of the supply chain    

Its the old adage “it doesn’t matter how good the concept its the people that make it work’

Everyday the supply chain gets more complex,everyday farmers are losing contact with consumers. everyday supermarkets get bigger and more powerful.

If farmers want to ensure they are not gobbled up by the challenges and have the capacity to grab the opportunities then we must be as active beyond the farmgate as we are on the farm

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MacDonald’s is a great example of recognising the need to build, maintain and communicate strong supply chain relationships 

Animal Care under scrutiny. Is video surveillance the answer ?

When I don’t sleep I find it cathartic to blog about the things going round in my head. So today you get two very different posts

I want to throw something out there for consideration and it concerns that highly emotive topic – animal  welfare and husbandry practices.

This week a horrifying story has come out of Canada which if you haven’t been in the loop you can read all about here. I cant watch the footage and it just horrifies me that EIGHT people were involved. Obviously this is a very big farm and yes farmers do need our support because as the statistics keep reminding us animal abuse on farms is very much in the minority compared to the the abuse of domestic pets and in particular animal hoarders.

Regarding the Canadian incident (is that a strong enough word ) I was extremely impressed by the BC Dairy Association response which started with the following first step:

First and foremost, we pushed for the immediate installation of video cameras at Chilliwack Cattle Sales, allowing for 24-hour surveillance of animal care practices on the farm.

Interestingly enough the world’s leading expert on humane treatment of cattle, pigs and sheep Temple Grandin also recommends remote video monitoring in large facilities to maintain high standards of animal welfare.

So I put it out there is there should Australian farmers routinely install of video cameras to allow for 24-hour surveillance of animal care practices on the farm?.

After all is there anywhere (except the family home) today humans who live and work in cities can go without being under video surveillance to monitor our honesty, work ethic and safety.

So in this changing social and economic climate is it inconceivable that livestock industries follow suit if we want to ensure high standards of animal care as well as limit the impacts on our businesses and ensure long term sustainability.

I agree with this comment

In an era of increased scrutiny and demands for greater transparency, it is not a matter of “if” a painful or stressful  husbandry practice will come under scrutiny but a matter of ‘when’. Siting back and waiting for the next  media ‘expose’ is not a wise approach to the issue.

As farmers I am sure you will all agree that we must be more proactive and engage with the Australian community and assure them the faith they have in the food and fibre we produce is warranted.

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We must agree that it is very stressful let alone hurtful when this happens as it appears to have in Canada if the online vitriol is anything to go by

Now it’s branded every dairy farmer in the country as a vicious sadist whose gleeful pursuit of profit comes at the cost of the animals in his or her care.

As I have said I have put it out there. Do we have anything to fear and perhaps everything  to gain by taking the lead and installing our own on farm video equipment?.

I welcome your comments.

Don’t cross oceans for people who wont jump puddles for you

My family have been farming in this country for over 180 years ( and who knows how long in Ireland and Scotland before that)

My childhood experience of life on the farm left me with the impression that farming was the most undervalued profession in the world ( 50 years on I am wiser and sadly there are lots of professions as undervalued as farmers ).

This childhood experience encouraged me to choose a profession where I and the people I worked with were truly valued. And I did just that. In my day working in pharmacy  was extraordinarily  rewarding and people acknowledged that. I can remember one Christmas where we couldn’t find enough room for all the Christmas cards from the pharmacy’s customers in our lounge room and I put on 2kgs from the boxes of chocolates of thanks that came my way at Christmas,

For the last fifteen years I have been using my 25 years of experience in a truly rewarding profession to endeavour through as many innovative ways as I can to generate the same acknowledgement for farmers and its been a long haul . There have been many successes ( salute to the Young Farming Champions ) and a number of ongoing disappointments.

From my significant experience I give you this advice

Always remember there will be people who get it and people who never will.

First and foremost -  Value yourself

Don’t cross oceans for people who wont jump puddles for you

here comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans quotes

But I can assure you I will never let this happen

Stop caring

Kermit isn’t the only one proud to be Green. Farmers are too

Wearing my “I am very proud Australian farmer hat” and I am in a room of farmers and the question is asked  “Who of you considers yourself a bit of an environmentalist?”…  I would like to be confident, that like mine, every single hand in the room would go up without a moments thought ( or checking out what everyone else is doing). I fear however that this may not be the case

According to Wikipedia

Environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the environment through changes in public policy and individual behaviour. In its recognition of humanity as a participant in (not enemy of) ecosystems, the movement is centred on ecology, health, and human rights.

Is there any more noble cause than ecology, health and human rights? With over 60% of Australia’s landscape being looked after by farmers its goes without saying ( or it should) all Australian farmers are environmentalists

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Yet environmentalist seems to be one of those words that farmers shy away from using in case they get labelled “greenies’ or ‘tree huggers’ or heaven forbid ‘friends of Green Peace or WWF’  

Stand tall stand proud fellow farmers we aren’t just talking about it we are walking the walk .Shout it from the rooftops “ I am a proud Australian farmer and I am an environmentalist” After all have you ever met a farmer who aims to leave their land worse off then when they arrived?.

For those of you who would like to see what some of our proud Australian farmers who are self declared environmentalists are up to there are some great blogs and websites for you to visit

Gus Whyte and family http://wyndhamstation.com.au/

Seven Aussie Farmers I am very proud to be sharing my story with here 1Million Women

Marian MacDonald  as selection from the wonderful Milk Maid Marian blog

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2013/12/01/for-our-children/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2014/05/05/why-landcare-matters/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2012/07/20/finding-pleasure-in-the-small-stuff/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2012/05/10/caring-for-our-country-requires-a-team-effort/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2011/12/28/our-green-investment-already-begins-to-grow/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2011/11/26/a-beautiful-set-of-numbers/

http://milkmaidmarian.com/2011/10/05/intensified-farming-good-for-the-environment-sometimes/

Check out the work of the Montrose Dairy team of Gillian Hayman and Graeme Nicol http://montrosedairy.com/category/environment/

Clover Hill Dairies Diary http://chdairiesdiary.wordpress.com/category/environment/

Young Eco Champions http://archibullprize.com.au/teachers/yec/yec2013.html

and lots of great stories at the Target 100 site about our Cattle and Sheep Farmers including the Young Farming Champions team

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Thank you proud and loud environmentalist  Bessie for inspiring this post

My plea to Michelle Bridges

The Art4Agriculture team of Young Farming Champions recently responded to the uproar in the agriculture sector that was generated by Michelle Bridges comments on the so called ‘ag gag’ laws and I was very proud of them. I was proud of them because they didn’t attack Michelle, they are just proud of their farms and they love to tell the world that they are proud to farm.   Michelle is perfectly within her rights to respond to the wider sector uproar  with this comment

Ms Bridges defended her column, posting this on Facebook days later:

“Aussie farmers – I have huge respect for what you do and realise the majority of the industry do the right thing. But I do believe that those who don’t should be held accountable.

“My article takes a stance against proposed new laws that I believe are unjust. It does not condone, encourage or endorse illegal activity.”

The long-term goal of reducing poverty, religious fundamentalism and overpopulation will be impossible to reach until we free women around the world from the enslavement of ignorance. More fundamental is the fact that education is a basic human right that has been systematically denied too many women for too long.”

I also agree with Cotton Farmer Bess OConnor who wrote on her Facebook page

AG-GAG.
This is a term I wish everyone (including our farmers and politicians) would stop parroting. It is a phrase that has been coined by terrorists (who call themselves animal libertarians) who are using it to help mislead the public in their push for a legal loophole allowing for exception for a particular form of discrimination and illegal activity.
The laws the current government are looking to implement are not about animal welfare cover ups nor are they about ‘special treatment’ for farmers, in fact the absolute opposite is true.
The laws are actually about securing and safeguarding the rights of farmers as individuals and business owners, just as those rights exist for all other people in this country.
For instance if someone broke into your house and set up surveillance to make sure you were being a ‘good parent’, or if a person did the same at your place of work to make sure you weren’t ‘slacking off’ would you be comfortable with that?
The cold, hard, raw fact is that here in Australia we have a fantastic human rights record. We advocate and do our best to ensure that the law and the judicial process are just and fair in order to secure a fair go and equality for all Australians.
If we continue down this path where we say “Oh yes, you may illegally enter this business (or this home) so long as you are there to collect footage that might uncover a possible item of interest”, don’t for a second think that this dismissal and sidestep of privacy laws won’t then in turn be used to alter laws in other areas too.

And this equally important comment from Sam Collier who is the bright mind behind the Australian Agriculture initiative and Bess’ reply

Bess O'Connor and Sam Collier

What Michelle and most people ossibly doesn’t know is that over 60% of the cruelty cases report to the RSPCA are for domestic pet abuse and that most prosecutions relate to what RSPCA refer to as animal hoarders. That is people who see themselves as “rescuers” of animals which in the main means people who ‘collect’ animals like cats and dogs and retired greyhounds and trotters in flabbergasting numbers and have no capacity to feed or house them?

What saddens me most is celebrities like Michelle speak and people listen. I just wish that they could see the big picture beyond “cute and cuddly’ and speak up and fight for the human causes. Of course animals are important but until people stop treating people baldy how we can expect them to treat animals well

Here is the cause if I would fight for if I  had the reach of people like Michelle

How Women can Save the Planet.

The long-term goal of reducing poverty, religious fundamentalism and overpopulation will be impossible to reach until we free women around the world from the enslavement of ignorance. More fundamental is the fact that education is a basic human right that has been systematically denied too many women for too long. Source

Sadly it isn’t ‘cute and cuddly’ and never will be but I will defy anyone to tell me there is a more important cause

Educate women

How proud would I be if I was a woman of influence and could could help make this happen

Fair go Woolworths I am shocked and disappointed

Can you believe Woolworths said its 2014 first half profit was up 14.5 per cent to $1.32 billion, or up 6 per cent ( Read more ) yet they expect vegetable growers to help fund their fee for engaging James Oliver

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Apparently Woolworths thinks everyone deserves a better deal  EXCEPT farmers

Goodness gracious me Woolworths this is disgraceful Veg growers slam Woolies’ Jamie Oliver fee and I am confident that Jamie Oliver will be just as mortified as me that this is happening.

Ausveg says growers have received requests from Woolworths to voluntarily pay a charge towards the costs of the new “Jamie’s Garden” promotion, equal to 40 cents a crate of produce sold to the supermarket.

While Woolworths says the request is voluntary, Ausveg national marketing manager Simon Coburn says growers are not in a position to say no.

“The growers feel like they are in a position that, if they were to say no, they are worried that their contracts would be reduced or terminated completely,” Mr Coburn said.

He said growers already paid a charge of 2.5 per cent to five per cent of their sales back to Woolworths to cover marketing costs, and the 40-cent charge was in addition to that.

The cost would range from a few thousand dollars to $250,000 for a grower, depending on the size of their contract, he said.

“Some are telling us they don’t have 40 cents left in their margins,” Mr Coburn said. Source AAP

Follow up media

Has Jamie Oliver been burnt by Woolworths media

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/blogs/the-hermit/jamie-oliver-burnt-by-woolworths-partnership-20140618-3aadz.html

http://www.smh.com.au/national/woolworths-recalls-jamie-oliver-toy-over-safety-fears-20140618-zsbdj.html

http://m.theaustralian.com.au/business/jamie-oliver-to-tackle-woolworths-over-vegie-levy/story-e6frg8zx-1226961808359?sv=e5efeb36f1aaf373557dd0b4427781f#mm-premium

and what is the ACCC doing about it. Quite a bit actually

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/are-supermarket-giants-simply-too-big/story-e6frg6z6-1226961691069#mm-premium

The gate is open, Michelle

Today’s post comes from the heart and is a reprint of this article in The Land

Tom Tourle is one of a group of young farmers extending an invitation to Michelle Bridges:

Tom Tourle is one of a group of young farmers extending an invitation to Michelle Bridges: “Come and see my farm“.

A FURORE erupted in farming circles last week when fitness trainer Michelle Bridges reignited the inflammatory debate on ‘ag-gag’ laws with a column in the Sun Herald.

Now a group of young Aussie farmers wants to “open the gate”, inviting Ms Bridges on a journey to see how they farm.

Ms Bridges’ opinion piece called for Australian consumers to resist the introduction of US-style ag-gag legislation which would restrict filming of animal production by activists. In response, the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) published an open letter asking Ms Bridges if she would mind having cameras set up in her own home.

Ms Bridges defended her column, posting this on Facebook days later:

“Aussie farmers – I have huge respect for what you do and realise the majority of the industry do the right thing. But I do believe that those who don’t should be held accountable.

“My article takes a stance against proposed new laws that I believe are unjust. It does not condone, encourage or endorse illegal activity.”

Regardless, the AFI open letter went viral, spawning countless tweets and Facebook posts and generating unprecedented online traffic. Amongst the understandable outrage, a clear trend emerged: farmers were keen not to defend the industry but to educate people disconnected from the reality of agricultural production.

Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Hannah Barber is one of many producers who’ve extended an invitation to Ms Bridges to share their stories.

 

An open invitation

 

Dear Ms Bridges,

My name is Hannah Barber and I am lucky enough to have been brought up on the family farm. We have now been proudly producing sheep, beef cattle and crops to feed and clothe Australian families for over 100 years.

After being thrown into the melting pot of people from different backgrounds at school and in the wider community I realised that I had taken for granted people’s connection to agriculture. I realised that not all people had the opportunities to have a connection to the land and farming and my childhood was unique and special.

I have now been lucky enough to be selected to represent the cattle and sheep industry with 40 other young people from the grains, wool, cotton and dairy industries in the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion’s program. These 40 young people are either proud to farm or have careers in the exciting, innovative and dynamic sector that is Australian agriculture.

Part of the reason I applied for the program was that it gave me multiple opportunities to provide others with the connection I have with farms and farmers, families and communities who grow the clothes they wear and food they eat.

When I read your article in the Sydney Morning Herald Lifestyle Section – “It’s time to take a stand over proposed “ag-gag” laws” – (by the way, I am confident you didn’t mean to infer that you supported the rights of people to break into farms) I saw a wonderful opportunity to literally take you on a journey to share my farming experiences.

I would like to extend an invitation for you to join me on a road trip to visit my family farm and those of some of my fellow Young Farming Champions to see how our animals are raised and how we get them ethically from paddock to plate (and everywhere else in between). After all, the fresh, healthy food you promote for fitness, health and weight management is grown by Australian farming families, like ours.

From my cattle in Parkes, you could maybe then visit Tom Tourle’s sheep farm in Dubbo, Georgia Clark’s chooks at Lake Macquarie and Prue Capp’s horses in the Hunter Valley.

The farmers who help put the cheese on your crackers Tom Pearce and Andrew D’Arcy could show us around their dairies in the home of cheese itself, Bega, and we’d better also drop in on Richie Quigley and Ben Egan growing the cotton for our socks out in the beautiful Macquarie Valley.

After who wouldn’t want to meet pin up boy Ben Egan

As young farming champions we are also scientists studying in various fields for our PhDs, we are agronomists, nutritionists, vets and rural entrepreneurs to name but a few. We are nurturers and environmentalists. In fact there is a career and a role for you in agriculture from A to Z.

My Mum also makes some mean scones too, so I suggest you plan to stay for smoko.

On behalf of the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions I look forward to hearing from you.

Hannah Barber

- Cattle and Sheep Industry Young Farming Champion

Lets appreciate what we have before it becomes what we had

I live in a very special place. When I wake up early in the morning and watch the sunrise its shear beauty often moves me to tears.

Sunrise at Clover Hill

Every three weeks the view from my front verandah looks even more nutritious and delicious when the real cows come to visit.

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I just don’t know how I could cope if I woke up every morning to watch it slowly bleaching and dying in front of me which is what is currently happening to our World Heritage listed  Great Barrier Reef

Can you believe that despite the Great Barrier Reef being one of the healthiest coral reef ecosystems there has been a 50% decline in coral cover since 1985.

Last weekend at the invitation of the Camp Earth Hour Retreat my front verandah on Heron Island looked like this.

Heron Island Jetty IMG_6182

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As you can imagine it was hard to leave but then not everyone is like me and gets to live some-where just as special.

I am a great believer in the adage

Appreciate what you have before it becomes what you had.

This brings me to the question “why is the reef dying?” Well lots of reasons and most of them are man made areas including catchment run-off, degradation of coastal ecosystems and direct-use activities such as shipping and fishing. Why has it become a burning bed issue and crucial  we act now. Dare I say it CLIMATE CHANGE

And boy am I sick of the energy wasted on the climate change debate “is it or isn’t happening?”. In reality you don’t need people’s opinions on a fact.

You know what I dislike most about the people who say it isn’t, they are the type of people who don’t take responsibility for anything. Thank goodness they are just a small minority albeit a noisy one. I care very much that it even might be a possibility.

Professor Lesley Hughes ( who I was lucky enough to meet this weekend) sums up why we should all care beautifully in this slide

Lesley Hughes energy-five-slideshow

To borrow this quote from Time magazine

Science is hard—which is why not everyone gets to do it.

More than 97% of the people doing the hard yards say the science is in. Lets get with the times, lets care and act now

Tony Abbott – Nature has a longer memory and a sterner set of justice than we all do

Whether people like my style or not – I am confident one thing they will all say about me is I am action oriented.

I love doers. I admire people who can connect other like minded thinkers and take them with them on their journey for the greater good. And I have never met and worked with a movement that does this more effectively than Landcare.

Nature

For me 25 years on Landcare is an internationally recognised social and environmental movement

I have worked with Landcare in urban spaces and in peri urban environments. I have worked with Landcare on lifestyle farms and on commercial farms, with youth and in schools.

Landcare transcends traditional boundaries to do what nobody else in Australian agriculture has ever been able to successfully achieve in great numbers. That is getting farmers to partner and work together and with the community

Landcare is the perfect model and a shining example for agriculture of what a connected cohesive group of people can achieve together

And thanks to the efforts of Landcare we are reminded that we (as farmers) operate in a broader landscape than just our farms

Farmers who work with Landcare think about their properties as part of the broader catchment which has led to incredible environmental achievements.

I also admire the very bright mind that is Andrew Campbell whose  knowledge of all things land and water and his ability to express his thoughts and opinions verbally and on paper is quite possibly unparalleled in this country

This recent paper he wrote ( with Ian Rutherfurd) for the Conversation on the government’s recent budget decisions on Landcare is a great example

Some of the text that resonated with me on the budget

It  also repeats a pattern of reduced funding and weakened delivery started under former Prime Minister John Howard, and confuses improved agricultural productivity with improved environmental management.

Bait-and-switch is a retail trick where you advertise a product at a good price, pull the customers in, and then switch the product at the last moment for an inferior and/or more expensive version. Under the budget, the bait is Landcare, and the switch is the Green Army.

Funding that would have been gone to seasoned community volunteers, multiplying local efforts, will now go to projects done by inexperienced young people on less than the minimum wage.

No doubt many Landcare warriors would appreciate a hand from some willing young workers, but will the soldiers of the Green Army continue to maintain these projects into the future like the Landcarers would? Unlikely. They will bus in, do the project and leave.

Governments need to be careful about white-anting the business models of existing private sector environmental contractors, and disenfranchising passionate volunteers.

Landcare is about building social capital in rural communities and helping communities to promote sustainable land and water management and more effectively tackle common problems that cross farm boundaries.

I filtered all the content I had put in the category under  The Environment on my blog and I am honoured that I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Landcare movement on my farm and beyond and introduce its ethos and philosophies and goals to so many others.

You have been very short sighted Tony Abbott – our landscape is such an integral part of the health,wealth and happiness of every Australian how can you not value it and the people who nurture it so much more than this budget shows