Calls for ag sector to stay unified, not pull itself apart

Calls for ag sector to stay unified, not pull itself apart

24 April 2023 11:27AM

There are calls for rural communities to unify together as the ag emissions pricing plan and other pressures divide the sector. 

Government legislation on top of economic pressures, inflation, rising input prices, farmflation, weather and more has been increasing farmers’ stress levels and worsening mental health. 

Mental health advocate Sam Owen told Rural Exchange he was seeing division right across the sector and within its own sub-industries.

“It’s been a long tough spring for many," Owen said.

"The grass hasn’t grown and a lot of people are coming out of the back of a really dry summer, so it seems to have just been a long old calendar of a couple of months."

Owen was an equity partner in a grazing operation, a Rural Support Trust representative and also had his own agribusiness consultancy firm. 

He said farmers needed to be focusing on finding common ground, getting around the table and pointing in the right direction. 

“Everybody’s going to feel a different pinch or a different implication from a lot of these policies coming through,” he said.  

“I think we all have a common goal, we all want to be in agriculture, post these policies coming in place and we all want to have our rural communities still thriving.” 

Common ground would come from focusing on wanting to leave the land in a better place for the next generation, he said, which is what 99 percent of the sector was aiming for in different ways. 

“Whether that be planting trees, retiring land or concentrating on what our GHG numbers look like, we all have to have a common goal that we’re all heading to a better place on these subjects.”

The dynamic of thought also needed to change to how, as a collective, the industry would move towards that new policy by using data it already had. 

“Government and policymakers are not probably going to take into account feelings and beliefs, they’re going to want numbers, they're going to want hard evidence to push back on some of the policies that we feel as farmers, as growers are going to impede our rural communities or impede the profitability of our farms moving forward.” 

Listen to the full interview with mental health advocate Sam Owen and REX hosts Hamish McKay and Rebecca Greaves above. 

Join the conversation over at the REX Facebook page.