Ever since the pioneers settled, agriculture has been the life blood of Australia. Even with all the new technology available, with the bigger trucks and the improved efficiency, the industry is still one the hardest to make successful. In 2008 there still are many concerns for the industry, but there are also a many positives for the industry.
No matter what type of farming, the weather is always too unpredictable to determine just how good or bad a year will be for farming. From the wheat growers that have failed crops, or the cattle producer that can’t feed there animals, its all inter connected. In 2008, the drought it still an ongoing concern.
The issue of the drought though, really depends on the were in the country your talking about. One of the worst effected by the brought, Queensland has seen some amazing rain these past months, with some cases resulting in significant flooding. Although this type of rainfall seems out of the ordinary, it is in fact, typical monsoonal weather for the area, its just we’ve not seen it in such a long time.
So Queensland is now in the black, but what about the rest of Australia. Parts of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, are still in major crises, and although there has been higher rain falls then in previous years, its still not enough to have broken the drought.
THE TAKE OVERS
Even with all the technology that has been developed over the years, there still continues to be hardship in this industry, and small farmers still are walking off there land. Instead, the larger corporations are coming through and buy out, and merging the smaller farms, to manage as a whole operation. This is particularly the case for Tasmania, some parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Why is this happening you say? It appears that the larger organizations have found that there is a much higher economics of scale that can be achieved, bringing on more expensive technology that the small timers could not afford, and by improving management, which are all leading to unseen efficiency on the farm land, which of course means more cash.
There are then further benefits where investment is scattered through out Australia. Often the case is that high yielding farms can take the slack required, for farms not doing so well, for whatever the reason, therefore smoothing out any effect those poor producing farms have on the corporation as a whole.
The foreign trade within the agriculture industry is currently a double edged sword. Although exports are booming, and probably the highest in years, mainly as a result of tapping into new markets, and providing a high quality product, imports are also hitting hard.
In particular, with fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables and meat, it’s the supermarkets, and more then likely the consumer demand requiring cheaper products. Particularly, effecting the small farmer, its impossible to compete with the international market on price. The only way this problem can be stopped is to ensure Australian consumers are aware of this issue, change there habits and rather then going to the supermarkets, go to the local butcher, or fruit and vegetable markets and be guaranteed they are supporting the local community.
THE NEW GENERATION
There are many farmers leaving the land, be it due to hardship, poor weather or just selling to the big guys. You have to ask yourself, that leaving the land in the first place, was it because farming was just something they fell into because there was a need to continue on with the dream that began generations before them.
While some are leaving, there are many also starting the hard journey and joining the agriculture industry as small producers. In most cases these people are moving for a tree change, a better life. Interesting considering so many are leaving, but for the same reasons. None the less this new generation appears to have the heart and desire that the first pioneers have, often looking a self sufficiency, living with the environment or tapping into a new niche market. These people, come with new ideas and a perspective very different from the traditional farmer, and possibly could be the reason for there survival.
In 2008, it does appear that in some states, the drought may be lifting, but in the long term, water will continue to be a problem. There will always be farmers leaving the land, and in 2008 it will be certain that the now established large corporations are going to continue increasing there hold on the agriculture industry. The export market will continue to boom, but lets hope consumers come to there senses and demand a higher quality product that is Australian owned, rather then a cheap import. But with all of this said, the most significant movement in 2008 will be the realization of the small producer, thinking outside the box, and tapping into the agriculture industry by making there farm work. This is what continue to reinvent the industry, why exports are so high, and why the agriculture industry will continue to be the life blood of Australia and many of its people.