Milk comes from thistles or is that coconuts

This post is in honour of International Bacon Day which just happens to be today (now I bet you didn’t know that) 

According to Wiki ‘Bacon Day celebrations typically include social gatherings during which participants create and consume dishes containing bacon, including bacon-themed breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and drinks’.

Bacon Day was conceived in  Massachusetts in 2000.  International Bacon Day has now spread to Canada and other countries where it is often held at different times of the year   The record for the number of different bacon dishes belongs to Thomas Green, of Ottawa, Ontario who created ( I don’t think he ate them all ) 12 bacon dishes. This list included candied bacon, maple bacon and chevre points, bacon screwdrivers jell-o style, bacon vodka gazpacho, chili bacon vodka, pork stuffed with bacon, apple and sage, bacon donuts, chocolate bacon brownies, banana bacon cookies, bacon martini, bacon burger sliders and bacon and egg sliders. A veritable pork smorgasbord

The post is inspired by this twitter conversation instigated by Farmers Angel Alison Fairleigh yesterday that believe it or not revolved around bacon and its origins

Bacon 

This reminded me of this picture and then of course who can forget that frightening statistics from the @OZPIEF study that found that too many kids think yogurt grows on trees

Cat milk

Now as you know it breaks my heart that farmers don’t have the marketing power and financial might to tell the real story of agriculture but as you can see there is one hell of a great opportunity out there if we can just get it right.

This week I spoke at the ABARES regional conference in Bega. This is part of what I had to say and a couple of my key messages    

I have a vision for agriculture that is full of promise.

I want an innovative exciting dynamic and profitable agrifood sector. A sector that our next generation best and brightest sees as a career of first choice

I see my role is to turn my vision for agriculture into everyone’s vision

We need smart and articulate and capable people working in agriculture so we can take it to the next level?

We need a supply chain culture that values our farmers

We need government and industry programs that believe in our farmers and invest in them?

We need to identify our young people in agriculture, nurture them and promote them and ensure we retain this talent.

There was a lot of questions from the floor about how we best tell Agriculture’s story with the limited resources and funding we have. It was very clear that the Young Farming Champions program concept truly resonated with everyone in the audience.

But there is nothing more powerful than a living breathing example of the program in action and no-one was more proud than me to see Young Farming Champion Jess Monteith in action on the ABARES panel which rounded off the conference  

Jess Sonia and Lana IMG_5196 

Jess Monteith, Young Farming Champion with Sonia Muir and Lana Mitchell  on the ABARES Bega Panel 

Now this isn’t an easy gig for a young person. Check out the panel topics which included demographic change, agricultural trade and markets in an Asian century, water, energy, trade and efficiency, future producers, labour and skills, future industries (& foods), new technologies and regional development  futures, Agri-tourism, Urban-rural relationships, land-use (conflicts).

When Dr Anna Carr from ABARES asked me to put forward a name that fitted the brief “Non farming background, young face – someone who has energy to burn and ideas in abundance who will show agriculture in a new context” Jess’ name sprang instantly to mind.

Like me fellow panellist Sonia Muir believes creating a community which is engaged with, & informed about agriculture is our most important job and the way to do this is to ensure we have articulate, well educated, charismatic young farming people telling our story for us.

The question was asked of Jess how do we get the real story of agriculture out there into the wider community

She answered “Engagement is the key, we need a nationwide network of young farming champions like the group I am part of, professionally trained to go into schools and tell our story and agriculture’s story to young people and the community” 

Jess is so right. Who better to tell the real story of food than the farmers, the hands that grow it and the caretakers of the land that produces.   

Its time to get smart agriculture we have a few skill sets to hone but if Jess is an example of what can happen with the right skills sets we could make no better investment   

Show me the love

Did you know that one teaspoon of healthy carbon-rich soil can contain almost as many organisms as there are people on the planet, that is, close to 7 billion living things – and a greater diversity of life than the Amazonian rainforest.

At Clover Hill Dairies our soil organic carbon varies from 5.5% to 12%. Now for anyone not au fait with soil organic carbon stats I can assure you that’s damned impressive and I am very proud to share this with you. I am even more proud to tell you that extensive soil carbon tests on many dairy farms in our region show similar results. That’s a lot of living organisms our regional dairy farm soils are proudly feeding and supporting.

Why am I telling you this?

Because Coles uses it marketing power and financial might to run loss leader marketing strategies with our Aussie farmer’s produce – like milk.  Marketing campaigns that give Australians the impression they are the reason for cheap groceries in this country when its our farmers who should be getting the credit for this

This behaviour is crippling NSW dairy farmers. The destructive pricing policies just have to stop because it doesn’t stop with our dairy farmers – it is undermining the financial viability of our great Aussie farmers.

I don’t have millions of dollars to spend in TV advertising campaigns to right this wrong. In fact my business like all Dairy Farmers Milk Supply Coop and Lion suppliers will take a heavy battering this year from the fallout from these Coles destructive pricing policies

But I do have voice and I have taken a pledge to get out there and tell every single Australian the real story behind food at rock bottom prices in this country and why they should be proud and loud of our Aussie farmers

This week I am speaking at ABARES in Bega. Since I first put forward the title of my presentation a lot has changed in the NSW dairy industry and the new title “Show me the Love” more reflects the need for everyone to think differently about the way farmers are embraced in this country

By the end of my talk I want nothing less than a pledge from every single person in the room to use their  LOVE to wake up Australia and get them behind our farmers!!!!

What do you reckon? Can I pull it off?

Show me the Love

 She certainly hopes I can because her future depends on it.