Exit strategies deserve more consideration

Exit strategies deserve more consideration

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While we don't want to be encouraging people out of agriculture, we need to acknowledge the number of farmers who will be thinking seriously about whether to keep going or make a change.

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AFTER what has felt like a long, warm and dry autumn, rain finally fell in SA and along parched areas of the east coast in the past week or so.

While the tallies weren't huge in SA, farmers in most areas at least had cause to check their rain gauges.

For some, it's the biggest falls they've seen in months, while for others, the rain will do little more than pause harvest for a few days. For graziers desperately crying out for rain, it's a start but no saviour.

The situation in the north of the state remains critical for our pastoralists, whose properties have been parched not just for months, but for years in many cases.

Related reading: Upper North grazier's tough years continue

Discussion about how to best support the farmers most affected by drought is ongoing, and it's obvious there's no simple solution.

Decision-makers would do well to listen to former Livestock SA president Geoff Power's thoughts on how our pastoralists could be better supported.

I found his comments on the need to introduce exit packages for pastoralists especially thought-provoking.

In its recently-released drought policy, the National Farmers' Federation also urged governments to consider exit packages. The recommendation received a somewhat lukewarm response, but I think it's important that helping people leave the land "with dignity", as Mr Power put it, is part of the drought conversation going forward.

While we don't want to be encouraging people out of agriculture, we need to acknowledge the number of farmers who will be thinking seriously about whether to keep going or make a change.

Related reading: All ideas on the table to future-proof against drought

Farmers are passionate about their operations and their land. No one makes the decision to leave easily, but if they do, it's important their path forward is clear of unnecessary barriers or complications. After all, wouldn't we rather someone leaves when it's their choice, not the bank's?

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