Friday, December 16, 2011

Farmers caring for the land

I had to laugh when I heard a representative from a farmer's group suggest that they had something in common with greenies in that they too care for the land and have similar concerns. Well, sorry, while many of the issues were caused by ignorance, farmers are very responsible for today's problems, over working land, salinity, taking too much water, clearing the land of all vegetation, not leaving areas for wildlife. It is only now that some farmers are seeing the sense in looking after the land for the land to look after them.

But many are not and are still objecting to the now reduced suggested water flows for our eastern rivers.

But what about the food bowl, I hear you cry. Oh yes, the food bowl. The one where grapes have been found to be unviable and the vines ploughed back into the ground. The one where beautiful oranges are almost worthless against subsidised overseas grown oranges. Yes, the food bowl that grows rice and cotton, both water intensive, in the driest continent in the world.

Naturally South Australian farmers will agree with me, they being the very last to get their hands on the water to put it to use for their own purposes. Well, actually South Australian fishers might be the last link in the chain who think those upstream always take too much water. The further upstream you go, the further upstream the blame will be laid.

Farmers, you have had two hundred years to work with the land, not destroy it. You learned nothing of sustainable farming practised overseas for hundreds of years, but just took what you could from the land. While no one wants to see your livelihood destroyed, it is time to give back to nature and restore some balance.

And before you get too soppy about the poor farmers fighting to save their livelihoods, just consider the (Murray, Darling) Basin Communities Association, fighting for farmer's rights, when it is nothing more than a front for big business.

The day water rights started to be traded for money, rather than allocated by a statutory authority, was a significant marker in where it all went wrong. It is almost past the time to get the environmental water flows right but we must do it. Only then can we distribute what might remain.


  1. As a Murray Bridge (SA) girl, I hear you and agree entirely and have often been frustrated by the ill-informed 'save our farmers' campaigns when many of the industries were based in areas that were never suited for their crops - oranges, rice and cotton, just to name a few.

  2. Ah, we went through Murray Bridge midyear, I think. I blinked. To me Kath, irrigation should be a supplement, not a requirement for growing crops or whatever. It needs to be used as a precious resource, which it often is in those areas.

  3. Well said. I agree 150% that rice and cotton should not be grown here. While I do think that governments should help by subsidising our farmers a bit, I also agree that more farmers need to learn and switch over to sustainable methods. Although that does take time to achieve and is costly, so for those who are already in such dire straits it may not be possible until matters improve. Which will not happen as long as we import cheaper versions of food that we are well able to grow ourselves. also, imported fruit juices are bitter, fruits are often tasteless, just try a turkish dried apricot some time. Yuk!
    The water issue needs to be sorted quickly, like last year or sooner.

  4. River, farmers all over the world are subsidised, and in a way ours our too with tax concessions, diesel rebates etc, but not nearly to the same extent. Farmers have my full sympathy, especially as I am the son of one, but the need to realise that the environment must come first and then we can deal with their issues. How many farmers now are actually small time family farms? Many less that there used to be.