On the eve of National Agriculture Day there can be no question that Australian farmers are the backbone of our country.
Our island nation prides itself on growing the cleanest and greenest horticulture and agriculture in the world.
But our farmers can’t do it alone – they need the unwavering support of consumers to ensure that the lifeblood of our country continues to remain viable.
This is why country of origin labelling is so important and it’s even more important for consumers to actually read that labelling so they know what they are buying.
Aussie produce should be foremost not only in their minds, but in their shopping baskets.
If you don’t know where your food is coming from, make sure you ask. In a perfect world Australian supermarkets would only stock ‘true blue’ produce, but we all know that the world is far from perfect, so asking the question makes retailers take notice.
On the subject of a perfect world, it is shocking to learn that – in a country where obesity seems fast becoming the norm – so many Australian families don’t eat home cooked, nutritious food as part of their daily routine.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a working mum with a family and I absolutely understand the whole work/life balance challenge.
Sometimes it seems so much easier to head for the nearest takeaway outlet – but cooking healthy food with a vegetable base costs less than fast food.
It is heartening to see so many people returning to more traditional food, not necessarily the meat and three veg, but the homemade veggie soups, or hearty stews harking back to their parents’ and grandparents’ times.
Not only are these foods nutritious, but they are super affordable and lend themselves to multi meal uses.
By ensuring we purchase Australian produce we can enhance our own health, as well as supporting our farmers.
If you sit back and think about how important farmers are the flow on effect for our communities fast becomes obvious.
If farmers don’t have a good season with their crops and are short on money, they don’t buy new vehicles, their families cut back on ‘non essentials’ such as visits to the local beautician, movies, department stores and the like.
That means those business owners also suffer a downturn in income, which then results in them cutting back on their own expenditure – and so the cycle goes.
With that simple analogy it shows just how imperative it is that we support our farmers who I firmly believe are the underrated backbone of Australia.
Sometimes I think that we have forgotten what built Australia, and fail to realise that the industry remains the future of Australia as we strive to become one of the biggest players on the world stage.
The figures speak for themselves – given that agriculture employs almost 400,000 people, it is no wonder the industry is the biggest employer in regional communities.
And if you spin those figures out to accommodate the associated support industries, Aussie farms directly and indirectly provides employment for almost two million people.
Recent ABARES figures show that almost 150,000 farmers produce enough food to feed three times the Australian population – resulting in an export market valued at more than $41 billion per annum.
To me it’s a no brainer – if we support our Australian farmers they will in turn support us, together we will prosper and Australia will remain at the forefront of the world’s agriculture.
- Lechelle Earl is the CEO of Onions Australia.