I have been rolling out agriculture awareness and interest generating programs in our primary and secondary schools for over 8 years. I have learnt a lot of things in that time.
Firstly the community does value its farmers they just know very little about them or what it takes to grow the food on their table or the fibre that keeps their families warm and the products they build their houses with for that matter. Secondly there is no-one more powerful to tell agriculture’s story than Gen F aka the next generation of food and fibre producers
My blog today will show you just how powerful two way conversations with the people who buy the food and fibre our farmers produce can be. In particular students in schools, our next generation of consumers, decision and policy makers and maybe even the next Gen F.
This blog will share with you part of a speech given this week by Sophia Wakeling who has participated in the Archibull Prize for the last two years as part of her school team.
Sophia gave this speech as part of the Australia Day Speaking Contest where students are asked to pick a topic that is relevant to Australian society.
Sophia’s mum Julia shared her speech with Young Farming Champion Kylie Stretton who popped into Sophia’s school recently. She said Sophia was inspired to write her speech as through her involvement with the Archibull project the students have met with some amazing young farmers and that she knew the issues she shared with the audience are very real for farmers and Australia.
I spoke with Sophia’s mum today who said she sent the speech to Kylie because she wanted to thank all the Young Farming Champions for teaching our youth to respect those that work so hard on the land to feed and clothe us! Julia said because Sophia is sharing her Archibull journey with their family they now all think about what they buy and how it affects Australian farmers. They always now buy brands and have even gone so far as to sign up with Farmers Direct so they can avoid the big supermarkets. I must admit I had a smile on my face when she told me they don’t support Woolworths anymore because they noticed the Woolworths logo was no longer on our list of supporting partners.
Australian Agriculture- Valuing our Famers by Sophia Wakeling
Whilst you listen to my speech today, I hope and encourage you to think about this quote from a young beef farmer from Queensland named Kylie Stretton who visited our school as part of the Archibull Prize. What Kylie had to say has really changed the way I thought about where my food comes from and my farmers. By sharing this with you I hope it has the same impact and if not I’m sure that by the end of my speech you will look at it in an entirely different way.
“Australia is very lucky that lots of us have never known extremely hard times or poverty, so we really take our food for granted. I think that supermarkets selling fresh food at cheap prices makes people value it less. And if they value our beautiful fresh food less and take it for granted, then they take for granted the people that produce it.”
Until last year, my 12 years of existence had never included stopping to consider where my food came from, or how it was produced. According to what the media had told me I believed that farmers rode around on tractors all day and lived on dry dusty land. Unfortunately, I also believed agriculture was an awful industry to work in or be involved with for a career.
But this all changed at a school assembly last year a new project called The Archibull Prize was introduced to my school. At first, I didn’t give it a second thought. At the time I thought I was too busy to help out with a farming project. But when my art teacher approached me and asked me to join the project, I reluctantly agreed. The Archibull Prize is a project developed by farmers and supported by industry. The project aims to debunk the stereotypes and change students (and teachers) opinions about the agriculture sector and encourages students to think about sustainability and where their food comes from.
Before we started the project we were required to fill out a survey that tested our knowledge of the agriculture industry. It was then that I realised how little I knew about where the food that I was eating (and buying) on a daily basis came from. Shockingly, I realised that what I thought I knew about the agricultural industry was very wrong. Embarrassingly, I also learnt that more than 40 % of students in year 10 thought cotton came from an animal and more than a quarter of younger students believed yoghurt and scrambled eggs came from plants.
As we progressed further and further into the project I began to realise just how valuable farmers and agriculture are not only to me, but to the entire world. I have learned that farmers are truly the backbone of Australia. Without farmers we would not be able to survive. Without farmers other industries would struggle to survive as many jobs depend on the agriculture industry.
An example of this is the fashion industry. Without cotton and wool farmers, clothes with natural fibres would no longer be able to be processed or made into new designs. This same scenario is reflected in almost every industry in every country in the world. Without farmers we would not have jobs, homes, food or clean water.
I think what farmers have done for us is incredible and they deserve an enormous amount of respect and gratitude for what they have done. So now that we have established the fact that YES farmers are important and that we need to value them and their products, I would like to share with you one way that you can start supporting our Aussie farmers.
There is a common saying that “farmers are price takers and not price makers”. This means that farmers don’t have a lot of control over what price is offered to them for the products they produce.
One of the major reasons that farmers are offered so little for their great products is because they are often pushed out of the market in favour of cheaper, lower quality products such as home brand. A great example of this is home-brand milk being sold for $1 a litre. While this may seem like a great, cheap deal to most consumers, milk being sold for so little is causing great harm to our farmers.
Because of the milk price wars many Australian farmers are only receiving 11 cents per litre for their milk. If this injustice continues to happen, Australia will not have any dairy farmers left. We will be forced to import milk from overseas.
I don’t want the future of Australia to be like this so please! I strongly urge you to support our farmers. If we do not stand up for our farmers and our country I am afraid that in the years to come we will lose what our ancestors fought so hard for: a clean, safe environment and good, healthy food. I believe that as the next generation, we the youth of Australia need to get up and start the change.
Change how you think about Aussie farmers.
Tell your friends and spread the word, and most importantly buy our Australian farmers products and support them.
Always remember every single one of us can make a difference so please do your little bit for our Australian farmers.
I want to make a difference and I want you to help start the change with me, support our farmers not our our supermarket’s profits.
Be a-part of this change and see Australia transform.
Support our Aussie farmers now!
Sophia (centre) interviews Wool Young Farming Champion Sammi Townsend
Wow your speech certainly makes my heart sing Sophia thank you so much.
BTW a great example wouldn’t you say that you don’t have to make agriculture compulsory in schools to share its story. See previous blog post here. All we need is for more industries and supporting partners to invest in Art4Agriculture which uses art and multimedia to ensure learning about agriculture is exciting and fun