I talk to a lot of farmers, and have done so for a long time. Not much has changed over that time, it is just that there are less farmers, bigger farms, and corporatised farming, with deep capital resources is taking over from the family farming enterprise.
The topics of conversation however remain the same:
Cost increases imposed by shiny-pants in office towers who never see a farm
The Aussie $
Regulatory and interest group interference
The value chain duopolies: grain handlers, logistics providers, processing works, and supermarkets.
How little they get from the value of the end product.
When you lay it all out, there are some things a farmer cannot control, but there are others that they could, should they choose to do so. However, to date, they have largely chosen not to, or paid a levy so some industry body can do it for them. Generally the results of this strategy have been pretty poor, the biggest beneficiaries being researchers, bureaucrats, those who control a choke point in the supply chain, and paper bag manufacturers.
Now however, the time has come for farmers to take control of the supply chains that they feed, and turn them into something different where they can extract the margins that accrue to those who make markets.
Not an easy task, not a short term task, and not one without cost and risk, but one that must be done if Australian farming beyond corporatised broad acre grain and perhaps beef, is to remain commercially sustainable. The tools and capabilities are now far more easily available, it just takes the vision, guts, determination and patience to make it happen.