HARVEST: Apple harvesting at Spreyton. The TFGA will be examining the answers to the question ‘what is farming’ to better educate consumers about the process. Picture: Brodie Weeding.WHAT is farming?That is the question that we at the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association have been asking ourselves for some time now.
While, in simple terms there would appear to be an obvious answer, we passionately believe there is more to it than that.Over the coming months the TFGA will be exploring in detail the answer to that question. You may ask why bother, everyone knows what farming is and what it means. We don’t think so.
It is clear that many people today do not have any real understanding of where their food comes from, worse still they have even less understanding of the systems and people that produce that food.We understand that there are pockets here in Tasmania that are not quite so blasé about that knowledge, but there is a good reason for that. For example,on the North-West Coast we are very fortunate to be surrounded by some of the best farm land on the planet. We grow a wide range of crops and those lucky enough to live here know from observation and personal and family knowledge what farming and the food production system looks like.
Most though do not have the opportunity to work and live on the Coast and are far more removed from farmers and the land more generally. For those who live in places like Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney the understanding of these things is far from complete.The inhabitants of these cities and beyond often see the supermarket as the only interaction required in relation to food. They often have little understanding of the importance of the food production system, or of those who produce it.
Once you understand you begin to place value on those who produce the food, place value on the regions that allow that production due to their natural attributes, and you then begin to value what it means to your ongoing life.So back to the fundamental question what is farming?There is no right answer because farming incorporates so many different elements. The answer can be as varied as there are crops in the ground. Those of us engaged in farming, either directly or indirectly, need to articulate a message to the rest of the community.
That message is, food is critically important, those who produce it are critically important, those who assist or supply those who produce it are critically important, and those who process it are critically important.
Finally, those regions that are literally our nation’s food baskets are also critically important and need to be recognised as such by all levels of government as we collectively work together to continue to supply high quality food to an ever increasing population.
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