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Supporting the next generation of farmers

You cannot have missed the recent outcry by dairy farmers about the impact that the ColesWorth (our Axis of Evil) milk war is having on the ability of producers to make a living. It highlights what is wrong with our current industrialised food supply, where food is treated as a commodity and farmers are, with very few exceptions, price takers at the mercy of the processing and distribution giants.

52
The average age of farmers in Australia in 2011/12.
National Farmers Federation.

What may be less apparent about the current industrialised system is that the producivity and efficiency gains have often come at the cost of environmental function. And that isn't painting the farmer as the bad-guy! The reality is that if a farmer is being squeezed on price, then something has got to give. It has reached the point that farming families are being forced to choose between environmental outcomes and poverty.

And the collateral damage is that fewer people are wanting to become farmers these days (who wants to work for 70+ hours a week for a return of $10 an hour?). We've got an aging population of farmers, and if we aren't careful, we'll end up at the mercy of the industrialised system as there will be very few independent farmers left.

21.7%
The reduction in the number of Australian farmers 1997-2012
Aust. Bureau of Statistics, 2012

The obvious solution to this is to have a system that allows farmers to receive a fair return for their labours and investments - to have a sufficent livelihood so that they are able to invest in environmental recovery as well as the health and wellbeing of their families.

There are a number of farmers that have already started to do this by direct marketing their produce to customers - and we welcome and applaud their efforts. But that isn't exactly an easy step, as it requires skills that are very different from their day to day activities, and plenty of time and energy to go with that. It is a major undertaking.

Our job at My Farm Shop is to help bridge that gap so that farmers can reduce their dependence on the commodity markes. As part of the process we:

  • buy the animals directly from the farmer (at an agreed price, above the commodity market, to ensure sufficient return for environmental management)
  • transport the animals to the abattoir, and manage all the logistics of slaughter, butchering and packaging
  • manage the marketing and promotion of the produce (websites, newsletters)
  • manage the delivery process to you, the customer

All that so that the farmer can get on with what they do best - managing their animals and the landscape.

We think it is a good system, and one that is designed to get a fair return for all involved in the process, whilst providing healthy, ethical and sustainable food to customers. We hope you do too.