Social media era offers a unique opportunity

Future Farmers Network directors regularly give their opinion on the latest news, events and issues in agriculture for an article for Farmonline and The Land. Here’s the most recent yarn from WA director Henry Gratte. 

I was recently asked “What do you expect for the industry”?

I answered that I expected the industry to handle all of its problems like it has in the past – by turning them into a solution. The industry through my life has had problems with soil erosion, so the industry turned to no-till farming. This has had an impact on better germination through the tough starts and less wear and tear on the machinery. There are many examples were the different segments of the Agriculture industry, whether, diary, cropping, wool or pastoral has had a problem and the solution has improved the whole industry.
The question then asked was why is it important for young people to be engaged in agriculture and for young people not involved in the industry to learn about it.

We as active members of the agriculture industry have a unique position in the social structure without even realising it. One of the three basic human rights is food, and we as an industry have become so proficient at this basic human right that our friends and families living in non-rural communities don’t even give it a second thought anymore. By being involved in agriculture we are all contributing to the basic social structure and improving the society that we live in. We also have a duty of care for the environment around us, we need to keep the waters clean and the air fresh. By being active members of this wonderful industry that works with the world around us is a pretty special thing to do.

FFN Director Henry Gratte

The people not involved in the industry need to know about our industry for the exact same reason. In living memory there has never been such an interest in where food was produced. There are practices carried out on a daily basis considered to be bad practices by people living in the cities, and considered essential by farmers or industry professionals. Practices such as burning off or herbicide applications are looked down by our consumers. By being engaged with people not involved in our industry we can convey the point that these are not terrible practices as they may have been portrayed as but essential efficient practices with a lot of good science behind them or years of practice to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

This is where the great opportunity of the industry lies especially with social media. By bringing the fruit season to the forefront, by showing the grain being harvested that is that clean you can eat straight out of the header box, by showing all the tree lines that were planted twenty years ago for salt management and the proactive care the whole industry has taken for the land, the industry has some great solutions to the problems already. It will take a continued work of good will and the slow burn of a patient and wise industry to continue to find the solution for this problem but we are in good hands with the new generation of industry professionals who have studied from the learnings of the past and are keen to grow.

There are further ways that new entrants, young people, can work with the current industry professionals to expand this great opportunity for the future. The simple solution is to get involved! All actions start at home and in your local community, by supporting and working towards a strong local community then you have a solid base to start making a positive change a little bit further out, further into your specific field i.e., beef, wheat production, grain marketing or even the accountants that are only appreciated at tax return time. To start making small differences it has to be as simple as volunteering at the local sports club or the bushfire brigade.