AG GROWTH PLAN MISGUIDED
Farmers well know that there is no economy without ecology.
The resources of soil, water, vegetation and animals are vital and irreplaceable.
The number one priority for Australian agriculture should be feeding, housing and clothing all Australians well, to improve and sustain our quality of life and the environment, for this and all future generations.
Australia urgently needs to develop a visionary and practical plan for the necessary transition away from high input, intensive, industrial monocultures that destroy the soil, water, flora and fauna on which the web of life and farm production depend. Wasting 30 per cent of food production while 1.5 million Australians are hungry, malnourished and dependent on charity is unacceptable.
The National Farmers' Federation's goal of $100 billion in farmgate output from Australian agriculture by 2030 is a dangerous distraction from the real challenges of ensuring rural viability and sustainability. It is an agribusiness public relations campaign, without a universally agreed plan, strong evidence, and community backing.
Without a public interest vision, the $100b goal sponsors, funds and drives change in the wrong directions. It uncritically promotes global corporate interests that seek to profit from the future of food, beverage, fibre and materials, with the same extractive and export focus that has brought Australian agriculture to its unresolved soil, water and weather crises.
Reducing agriculture's dependence on high cost and depleting oil-based inputs would be a step in the right direction. The use of genetically-modified animals, plants and microbes would further entrench input-dependent, industrial agricultural systems. They should be dispensed with, to help future-proof agriculture.
Our priorities must be the research, development and adoption of diverse, regenerative farming systems based on agro-ecological principles. They can remain viable and productive far into the future by respecting and nurturing our ecological asset base, not mining and destroying it.
GeneEthics executive director.
VIRUS RESPONSE COMMENDABLE
The arrival of the new year gives us time to reflect on 2020 and the difficulties that we faced.
Our world changed in late January, with the first diagnosis of Australians with COVID-19.
At times, our geographical isolation has been viewed as an impediment to our progress and development, but in this case, it served as the perfect barrier to this insidious disease.
Despite a few hiccups, the response to COVID-19 has been exceptional, and our governments, along with our "essential workers", are to be commended for their compassionate, courageous and dedicated commitment to ensuring that the impact of COVID-19 was minimal.
Australian citizens, as a whole, are also to be congratulated for their near total adherence to the stringent and at times severe restrictions placed upon each of us during this time.
While the year has been different and challenging, it has given rise to myriad examples of human compassion and care for others, as we discovered new ways of living safely with each other.
As 2021 begins, take time to consider these words, "Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be".
Best wishes to all for 2021.
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