Agvocacy – Is being an Active Advocate for Agriculture.
On our first property our theory was to do what we do best, work our cattle, work on our property, stick to ourselves and the rest would fall into place. We take immense pride in how quiet our cattle are so that is a major part of our animal work. We dealt with droughts, debt, children, schooling, staff and all the normal station stuff as everyone does that goes with the operation of a property.
In regards to supporting agriculture outside of that properties sphere I rarely if ever attended industry meetings. People I knew and respected did, their opinions I valued and therefore I felt comfortable with decisions they made.
What was the point of me attending meetings and putting in my 2 bobs worth?
I can assure you shyness and inability to speak my mind was and never has been an issue. I just never got off my arse to help my own industry in any effective way because I thought someone else was always onto it and my thinking then was, that was OK!
A number of years later we sold that property and purchased a smaller one,(2008). One of the attractions to this property was the proximity to the live cattle export markets, which I felt at the time and still do is vitally important to the future of the Australian beef industry.
June 2011, Live export ban hit, and I mean hit hard, for a while there I thought the government were going to shut it down permanently, honestly we were floundering, not only with the ‘what the hell do we do now’ scenario but as in
What the heck has happened to our industry?
Where are the large industry group’s coming out to support us?
Where was the government vocal support?
Where was the support from urban Australia?
Didn’t we matter?
Why wasn’t there more noise from producers affected?
Did general Australia really think so little of us that we were just collateral damage if a ban was legislated?
Were we so un-important that it didn’t matter if our animals and us would suffer catastrophic consequences had a permanent live export ban occurred. Us and our animals suffering physically, mentally and financially, All of these being permanent?
Was the real issue Animal welfare at all? Or was it to just kick the crap out of someone while they were down ultimately for other agendas? Where live export is just the stepping stone to then ban factory farms, long haul transport, feedlots, saleyards and then what? The abattoirs! And why because I choose to eat animals and others don’t!
Live export market issues were stressful and continue to be. So a coping mechanism kicked in for me, I realised it was about time I did my bit to support the industry. It was about time I stood up and said my viewpoint counts and I need to say it.
I needed to do something to keep my own sanity, more importantly I just needed to do anything as doing nothing to me was just as bad as giving up, then and there! Was the motivation money, that without live export our business will be effectively bankrupt within 2 years? Yes undeniably, but I was also angry. Agriculture is so poorly perceived by so many people, including those in government. We have high standards of animal welfare on our property but to see what people wrote or said in the media I wondered who we’re they were talking about. It was me!
So I dived into the social media and I used the only piece of effective accessible equipment that I had, My computer and internet. I write on facebook, twitter and I do this blog.
Work restraints and commitments still make it difficult to get to those actual face to face industry meetings but I am attending more. I rarely watch TV, I research and read, active agriculture advocacy has become a main consumer of time for me.
I use face-book- Jo Bloomfield I am a member of a number of groups who actively support not only live export but all aspects of agriculture, some are open to the public, others closed groups. We share information, advice, knowledge and question each other on current topics.
I use twitter @cattleproducer as a tool to ‘stay in the loop’ of information on a much broader scale with others whom I wouldn’t normally have the ability to speak to or hear. Tweeters are able to link information to articles and similar points of interest which I am able then to view. This can’t be underestimated, and has become a wealth of learning for me.
I use my blog, simply because I’m proud of what my family do and I want to tell the world about it. I want to tell my families story, I want to tell it my way and in my own time, I’m sick to death of seeing other people write or talk about Northern Australia who have never even been here let alone experienced the conditions. I can write articles put them out there for public viewing, find them again if required and send a quick link to someone if interested.
All of this I do on a daily basis from my office, anytime I want, if it gets too much I can just walk away and go back to fight another day.
These are tools for which I can express my views and are based on our life and real circumstances.
I have made friends with people I have never actually met and may never meet face to face. Through their enthusiasm for agriculture have come to highly value their friendship and support. These people have inspired me with their passion, their honesty and their plain old fashion guts. There is no doubt that some very difficult times have passed since the ban and many more are yet to come, yet these people have offered a friendly word, encouragement, at times a good kick up the rear and often a good laugh. This is one positive thing that has come out of the ban it is that I have had the opportunity to communicate and connect with these people, for that I will be forever grateful to them.
While people may joke I spend too much time on facebook or social media as if I am playing some kind of game, I can assure you I take very seriously the role I have decided to undertake as an advocate for my industry, I am a proud ‘Agvocate’ for Australian Agriculture.
I encourage others to become more social media savy, you don’t have to do the debating or blogging if it’s not your thing you don’t have to be the flag waving ‘agvocate’. Just do it and if you want all you need to do is read. I would be surprised though if there wasn’t a single producer that once they have had the ability to increase communication with others in similar interests wouldn’t find the social media network as a great information source and just plain interesting. You may even enjoy it.