FFN Opinion: An Ag Positive Pandemic

Future Farmers Network directors regularly give their opinion on the latest news, events and issues in agriculture for an article for Australian Community Media. Here’s the most recent yarn from FFN Treasurer Lachlan Lynch.

As we put 2020 behind us, what a feeling it is to be in the second month of 2021! Whilst the pandemic is still wreaking havoc across the globe, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines start to be distributed into many communities. It is fair to say that everyone is optimistic about 2021.

While there have been innumerable negative consequences from COVID-19, can we find a silver lining for Australian Agriculture? Has there ever been a better time to live in the bush, where social isolation is just part of everyday life? Whilst there have been some challenges, there are not many people that are unhappy about living out of major cities throughout 2020 and 2021.

Hasn’t it been great to see the Agricultural industries defined as “Essential Services” and being valued and appreciated by the entire population. Whilst there have been many industries that were shut down over the lock downs, food production businesses remained open for business, keeping people employed across the country.

This situation has shone a spotlight on the industry which we have not had before. As a sector, we need to make sure that we capitalise on this stage that we have been given and ramp up our industry promotion while everyone is watching us! Let’s take this opportunity to improve the positive promotion of our industry, educate our consumers on our production systems and further increase our connection to the ‘city folk’.

Another strong positive for Agriculture is the movement towards “remote working”. Whilst all the technology existed prior to the pandemic, the country needed this catalyst for businesses to realise that it was possible on a larger scale. Until now there has been a perception that employees won’t be as efficient, productivity will decrease, and the personal connection will be lost. Lock downs across the country have proven this is not the case.

Going forward this “new work environment” for people could be hugely positive for rural communities. It is now, easier for farmers to access information and participate in meetings or virtual conferences, keeping them just as connected as those living in the major cities.

We all know people from the bush that have jobs in major cities, however long for the lifestyle of living in a rural community. With remote working now common place, can they live in the bush but have a ‘city career’? Can they skip the traffic, and live the rural lifestyle that we all love? And will they promote rural businesses and holiday locations to their city colleagues? Imagine the benefits of a relocation of urban professionals into our regional and rural communities?

If you dig deeper and think more laterally, could the global pandemic be one of the most positive events for Agriculture this century?