Monday, 10 September 2012

Agriculture the 'safest of bets' for Australia's future, says Year of the Farmer director Philip Bruem

THE time for Australian farmers to stamp their authority on the world stage is now, Australian Year of the Farmer director Philip Bruem says.

The dairy, cropping and sheep farmer from Forbes, NSW, has revealed key elements of a "battleplan" for the farming sector ahead of an address to the state's agriculture industry during the Royal Adelaide Show this week.

"There is a bit of a downturn in mining but there is no downturn in the need for food production and there never will be," Mr Bruem said. "The agriculture industry is the safest of bets."

His strategy for a farming fightback comes as grain growers look ahead to stronger commodity prices due to a world shortage because of ongoing droughts and includes:

IDENTIFYING and developing genuine prime agricultural land near cities.

PROMOTING non-farm based agribusiness and employment opportunities.

SMARTENING up the farmer image.

RECONNECTING city and country communities.

BETTER product labelling to help promote Australian-made goods.

GOVERNMENT incentives for farmers to make the industry more attractive.

Mr Bruem said he "would not knock mining one little bit" because Australia needed to take advantage of the country's resources, and that included minerals in the ground as well as our ability to be world leaders in agriculture.

"It's no longer time for planning ... it's time for action," he said. "Global food production has to increase by 70 per cent in 30 years. It's a growth industry.

"The farmers that are going to be required to produce this food have been born. A failure to capitalise on this now would be one of the greatest blunders of our time."

Mr Bruem will use his visit to the Royal Adelaide Show on Thursday to further promote the Australian Year of the Farmer, which is a launchpad for the movement's One Country program.

Former cricket great Glenn McGrath, who has a farming property in NSW, will also join the Australian Year of the Farmer roadshow and will attend the Show today.

Mr Bruem said he did not subscribe to the fact that Australia was short of water, but that the resource needed to be better managed.

"We have to take a sensible approach to it and conserve some of that water that runs out to the oceans," he said.

"The biggest infringement on agriculture is urban sprawl. If you look at the good agricultural land that's already gone under urban sprawl, it is concerning.

"We've got to take greater stock of those areas that are genuinely prime agricultural land and see what we can do now to protect it.

"It makes sense, for supply chains and work forces, to use the prime land close to cities for agricultural purposes and continue to develop that for agricultural use."

Farming, however, needed to be financially attractive and government incentives were required to achieve that and reduce the urban sprawl land grab.

"There has to be incentives from government for farmers to invest," Mr Bruem said.

"The starting point is to make farming attractive. We need to smarten up our image and get away from the image that farmers are older people stricken by drought.

"The true scene is that farming is a great occupation and profession.

"We also need to show people that you can have a career in agriculture where you don't have to be a farmer ... (but) in science, banking, and agribusinesses that are not on farm."

Original Article Here

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