A New Year

2014 has drawn to an end and 2015 has started, I rang in the New Year the only way I know how, starting siphons to irrigate cotton a tradition I have kept up for the last six years. So what will the New Year hold for Agriculture?

First up I think we are hoping for rain, with a large portion of the country being drought declared and a rural debt crisis looming widespread, continued rain is needed desperately. While a subsidy free industry is important for an efficient and financially sustainable farming sector a drought like the one that we are currently experiencing can send many viable farms under and foreclosure isn’t a good option for anyone including the banks. As a sudden infux of farms on the market would drop land values impacting on surviving farms as well. Aside from rain the only way that I can see out of this situation is through low interest loans from the government. So my first hope for the New Year is widespread rain or failing that the continuation of low interest loans.

Secondly I would like to see the strengthening of the farm trespass and immediate reporting of video of animal abuse laws. As animal activists have not only continued to illegally break into and survey farms but some have also upped their agenda to sabotage, such as the recent example in Western Australia where anti live export activists burnt out a truck and cut the break lines on two other trucks. While I can’t imagine that tougher laws will deter these people that are acting out of ideology but it they are caught it may keep them off the streets for a while longer. The immediate reporting of genuine animal abuses would not only be a better outcome animals in distress but would stop groups holding onto emotive footage to use at times of political advantage.

My third desire for 2015 would be the increase of Australian Agriculture’s voice, we have a great story to tell and each year we are connecting with Australians but there is still more to be done. We are still being confronted with waves of misinformation that mislead the general public and fail to accurately portray the image of Australian Agriculture. It is up to us as an industry to tell the story of Australian Agriculture, who we are, what we do, why we do it and fight emotion with fact.

I hope we can achieve these things in 2015, telling the story of Australian Agriculture while getting tough on the illegal activities of activists, but most of all I hope that it rains and the drought stricken farmers get the relief that they need.

Happy New Year to all 🙂

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The Kangaroo, A Icon, A Pest and A National Identity

Old Skippy is never shy of a bit of publicity, he appears on our coat of arms, he had his own TV show and appears on countless other Australian products along with some that are trying to be passed off as Australian. But has our attachment to this national identity clouded our sense of reason when it comes to managing this animal?

While the kangaroo is a iconic Australian animal it can also be a major pest to farmers particularly in dry years as large numbers of kangaroos can quiet easily decimate a wheat crop and compete with stock for feed; leading to overgrazing and land degradation. This was highlighted when a military base out side of Canberra had to cull kangaroos to put a stop to the overgrazing and land degradation, however while there was a genuine environmental reason for this cull it still attracted world wide coverage and protests by mostly well meaning but ill-informed people.

I always known that there has been opposition to kangaroo culls and the kangaroo trade but I never really paid much attention to the information they were pushing with it until someone retweeted a tweet from @Boycott_Aussie. The twitter page Boycott Australia has put out over 20,500 of pure rubbish to their 40 followers (how they have that many I don’t know), including there latest example “Do you know Australia tells it’s citizens to kill every kangaroo they see because they are garbage?”. Where’d they pull that from? Activists have been know to be a bit loose with the facts but that is taking things to a whole new level in my opinion, however this group is probably the most extreme of the extreme and is reflected in their following on twitter.

However some things they claim is reflected in many other activist websites, the main claim is that they are near non-existent and on the brink of extinction; I’ll just quote The Kangaroo Protection Coalition “Many Australians who have lived in rural Australia for several years, cannot remember seeing a single kangaroo in the wild”.  Again where do they get this information from? Tabloids do a better job at fact checking. A quick drive out of town would soon put that myth to rest as it usually doesn’t take long to spot one on the side of the road. Just from my own experience last weekend when I went out pig shooting, I failed to find a single pig (plenty of signs though) but saw countless kangaroo’s resting under trees and grazing the grass (In case your wondering I only shot them with my camera). Now if we’re going use peoples personal experience of animals in the wild to assess their vulnerability lets use mine; I’ve only  ever seen 5 Koalas in the wild and its official listing is vulnerable, I’ve seen four Short Billed Echidnas which are classified as Least Concern and one Bare-Nosed Wombat is not listed on the threatened species list (accidentally set up my hoochie next to its burrow, I was left wondering what the red eyes belonged to that were staring at me as I climbed into my sleeping bag). So really a persons individual experience bares little relevance on the animals population.

So instead of devoting time and resources to a animal that is doing well for itself why aren’t these people out promoting some lesser known and lesser iconic but still critically endangered Australian species; have you ever heard of the Short-nosed Sea Snake? I hadn’t till five minutes ago, no specimens have been sited since 2000, yea I know what your thinking but that’s a snake its no where as cute as a kangaroo. Well then what about the Gilbert’s Potoroo? There’s only 40 left alive, again I had never heard of until five minutes ago. Endangered animals include the Woylie, Quoll, Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Dibbler, Various species of bandicoot and the list goes on. Surely these lesser known but endangered animals are worth as much if not more time than the kangaroo.

While I still believe and maintain that the kangaroo is a icon of national importance and must be protected to a extent, their is still room for culling programs and harvesting to help protect the environment, crops and pastures. I also believe that the people who campaign so hard for the Kangaroo should work to direct their effort towards raising awareness and promoting the protection of other lesser known endangered Australian species. Feel free to leave your comments and opinions below as I’m keen to hear what people have to say on this issue.

You'll Step In Front Of A Truck For Me

You’ll Step In Front Of A Truck For Me

But Have You Heard Of Me?

But Have You Heard Of Me?

What Is Going On?

WARNING CONTAINS RANT

Yes that’s right I’m sorry I’m doing this, I do try and keep the blog level and free of opinion and full of facts but the media during the last couple of weeks has lead me to this. We’ve got drones in the air, rangers calling for bullet proof vests, undercover activists and glass in gumboots, honestly what the hell is going on? has the country just lost its mind?

Lets start with the drone, Animal Liberation has just spent $14,000 on a new drone to spy on farms to certify organic and free range statuses as well look for breaches of Animal Welfare so they can report them to the RSPCA. For a start I think that’s its just a complete waste of money, a grab for headlines and probably Australia’s most expensive clay pigeon. My biggest fear with them flying drones over farms and around stock is that they’ll get a lot of footage of stressed stock and use it against us, not because stock is stressed because of poor Animal Welfare but because some bright spark is dangling a drone on top of them to check for stress and AW issues, but they won’t let couple of facts won’t get in the way of a good story. Also $14,000 is a lot of money to spend on something that won’t necessarily improve anything, so wouldn’t putting it towards fixing a issue that has already been identified be a better use for the money?

Another thing that was making headlines this week was park rangers calling for bullet proof vests to issued for when the National Parks are opened for hunting. Now I believe that no matter what a persons personal view of hunting is there is no need for bullet proof vests to be issued to park rangers as it is completely irrational and nothing more than a head line grabber. Statistically shooting is a very safe sport between 1997 and 1999 16 people died in accidental shootings while in 2012 284 people drowned, yet no one wants it banned and it shouldn’t be people should be able to have the freedom to swim if they want to just as qualified people should be allowed to hunt if they so choose. I firmly believe that if parks are opened up to hunters it will benefit pest control measures already in place and will be able to be carried out without risk to park staff, visitors or other hunters.

While on the topic of hunting the activist group Coalition Against Duck Shooting or CADS sent under cover activists complete with shotguns into the wetlands this year to monitor the duck  hunting. Again is this really necessary? Isn’t this just taking things too far and where do they draw the line?

Today I read a press release from the Victorian Farmers Federation after the link was posted on twitter (http://www.vff.org.au/media_centre/detail.php?id=1502&order=0) which described how a Victorian egg producer was raided by activists which left glass from a broken bottle in a row of Gumboots. It is just simply dangerous not only to the farmer but employees and potentially the farmers children, what drives people to do that? There is no reason to try and physically harm a person just because you may disagree with what they do or how they do it, I also wonder how these groups are meant to be taken seriously if they are going to about breaking into farms and booby trapping peoples work wear.  At what point will the line be drawn? How long till someone gets hurt in one of these raids gone wrong or in a trap left by them? And on a very serious note if a activist injured themselves on one of these raids would the farmer be liable?

Again I’m sorry but I couldn’t help myself these activist are just going too far into the extreme zone, next week I go on uni break for two weeks so I’ll be back to work right in the heart of the busy picking season. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some more pictures of the pickers at work and I might even be able get inside  a cotton gin so I can show you all what happens to the cotton once it has left the field.