Flawed perceptions harm ag

Flawed perceptions harm ag

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BRIGHT FUTURE: While there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future of agriculture, public perceptions can differ dramatically.

BRIGHT FUTURE: While there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future of agriculture, public perceptions can differ dramatically.

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Agriculture is a great sector to be in, whether you are at the coal face, or like me in the service industry that has agribusinesses as clients.

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ABOUT a month ago, I was a spectator at a mountain bike race in the Adelaide Hills and had a really interesting conversation with a person I met for the first time that day.

After the obligatory introductions, the conversation drifted into what I did for a living. I said it was centred wholly around agriculture.

To my surprise, this person said something like, "That must be so tough, sounds like the future is a bit bleak".

This response was somewhat unexpected. This person understood the importance agriculture played in Australia and was very supportive of farmers.

That got me thinking - if he had only read the few stories that made it onto primetime television, the big national newspapers and increasingly online, he could be forgiven for thinking agriculture was indeed on the ropes.

The Australian agricultural sector needs to be portrayed in a positive way as much as possible.

Agriculture is a great sector to be in, whether you are at the coal face, or like me in the service industry that has agribusinesses as clients.

Industry publications show the true picture of the ups and downs in agricultural fortunes, as there is no doubt it is not always smooth sailing.

According to the National Farmers' Federation, agriculture contributes about 3 per cent of Australia's total gross domestic product, equating to about $60 billion annually.

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More than three-quarters of what we produce is exported. We are heavily reliant on overseas markets.

This all means the powerhouse that is the Australian agricultural sector needs to be portrayed in a positive way as much as possible.

The last thing agriculture needs is to have the perception in the marketplace as an unreliable producer of food, as nothing could be further from the truth.

It is incumbent on all of us to raise the profile of agriculture in the community.

It is incumbent on all of us to raise the profile of agriculture in the community.

I do concede there are lots of positive stories, but these seem to be swamped by the really big ones, such as drought. In no way do I discount the impact of drought, but is it not the norm every year, particularly in SA.

Perhaps part of the problem is that agriculture is predominantly made up of thousands of family farms.

There is no natural avenue for positive publicity to get to the masses. I'm not sure that farming has a public relations problem particularly - it's just the dissemination of information.

There is a lot of goodwill for agriculture in the community. The various industry organisations do a good job promoting their sectors, but with the vast majority of people living in cities near the coast, it is hard for agriculture to remain front of mind.

Technology and innovation in agriculture is forging ahead. Agribusiness owners are getting much better at managing risks.

I personally see a wave of positivity, with the inevitable speed bumps along the way,

Someone like me could work within whatever business sector I liked. But I choose agriculture, and I am very proud to tell anyone that will listen to me.

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