Farmers in Kalannie and surrounding areas came together on Monday to share their concerns about life on the farm and the current season, with special guest Fiona Simson (National Farmers’ Federation President) promising to take their feedback to the national body.
Held at the property of WAFarmers Members Bob and Amanda Nixon, the 30-strong group voiced numerous issues of concern, with the following being highlighted by the group:
- Attraction and retention of young people in agriculture, particularly keeping children on the farm for as long as possible;
- Reliability of connectivity and mobile phone coverage;
- Staying competitive with the rest of the world;
- Closure of local schools and the follow-on issues (further travel required; potential boarding required, etc);
- Community engagement and education;
- Lack of acknowledgement by Federal politicians of the contribution that regional Australia makes to the economy;
- Costs that the industry faces (paying retail price and having to sell at wholesale price. etc); and,
- Wild dogs.
Ms Simson, alongside WAFarmers President Tony York, listened to these concerns and shared her own experiences, including the fact that the town where her kids went to school is now mostly decimated.
“I believe in a really strong future for agriculture and the regions, though we need to collaborate more than we’ve ever done before,” she said.
Ms Simson said the farming profession carried a trustworthy connotation, and that industry needed to capitalise on this label to properly sell agriculture.
In particular, Ms Simson highlighted that farmers needed to be more proactive rather than reactive regarding policy decisions, and that agricultural technology should be used to encourage people to understand the technicalities of the industry.
“Digital connectivity poses one of the biggest opportunities, if we can get it right, and it’s this exciting opportunity that will help to keep young people involved,” she said.
Finally, guests were encouraged to be part of WAFarmers so that their voices could be heard on state and national levels, with Ms Simson explaining how membership to the state farming organisation is a direct channel to advocacy from the national body.
Guests were then taken on a tour of the property, and had the opportunity to get out in the paddock to see the effects of the season so far and learn more about deep ripping.
The entire day generated thoughtful and collaborative discussion, with Ms Simson leaving with a greater understanding of the issues facing the Wheatbelt and the WA agricultural industry as a whole.
Special thanks to Bob and Amanda Nixon for their generous hospitality, and to all those who travelled to be part of this community discussion.