3 November, 2023
National Ag Day fosters greater connection with food and fibre
THIS month, Australians are being urged to think about the food farmers produce and where it comes from, with National Agriculture Day being celebrated on 17 November.
The National Farmers Federation (NFF) is encouraging everyone to celebrate and learn about Australia's incredible farm sector, with this year’s theme of “Grow you good thing!”
Former NFF president Fiona Simson said the annual shout out to farmers and the incredible food and fibre they grow could not come at a better time.
“We have an El Nino on our hands and some farmers are facing a very poor outlook for the season ahead,” she said.
“That being said, Aussie farmers work hard to make sure the impact of dry times is barely felt at dinner tables.
“Our farmers are the best in the business.
“A huge amount of planning and careful management goes into making sure food and fibre still gets grown despite difficult times.
“It’s always wonderful to see communities coming together on Ag Day to celebrate Aussie farming.
“It doesn’t matter where you live, that connection to farming is such an important part of our identity as Australians.”
Greg and Bronwyn English, of Eachamvale, have been having primary school students visit their dairy farm for the last 15 years.
They commenced hosting the student visits after the Malanda State School approached them about a farm visit to enable students to see a cow being milked as a result of a segment which the school was doing on agriculture.
“Students can touch and pat a cow and have a real life experience,” Bronwyn said.
“The students see what the cows eat, where they are milked, they can put their thumbs into the milking machines and see the milk tanker collect the milk.
“It is a real hands-on experience.”
Greg and Bronwyn feel it is important for students to have hands-on, real life experiences to know where their food comes from.
“Back in the day, almost everyone had a connection to a farm,” Bronwyn said.
“They either grew up on a farm or had other family members or friends who owned one and they would go there for the holidays.
“Everything has changed dramatically over the years. It’s important that everyone knows where their milk comes from.”
In August this year, Greg and Bronwyn took a cow to the Malanda Community Kindergarten so the children could see her being milked, and earlier in the year, a group of Cairns school students visited their dairy farm.
Last year they had a visit from primary school students from the Dimbulah State School and a recent visit by the Malanda State School enthralled primary school students.
Malanda State School Prep teacher Karen Hunter said the English family had been hosting the Prep students on this excursion for many years.
“It provides a wonderful link between the community and the school, giving the children real life experience in the industry that the Malanda area is known for,” Karen said.
Farmers experience immense environmental and financial challenges on a daily basis. Now, a new threat is on the horizon.
Food Standards Australia is currently assessing Australia’s first application from lab-grown meat company Vow to sell “meat”, produced from animal cells in a laboratory, in Australian supermarkets.
A decision is expected in March next year as to whether the product will be allowed to be sold on supermarket shelves.
The United States gave its approval on 21 June this year, paving the way for the nation's first-ever sales of lab-grown meat.
Malanda Beef Plan Group president Gordon Carcary said the beef cattle industry, as well as other associated industries, was an important contributor to the region’s economy.
“I feel that eating locally produced beef supports local farmers and local communities,” Gordon said.
National Agriculture Day also serves as a time for young people to consider a career in the industry. Rewarding careers in agriculture can be accessed through Career Harvest which is a hub for the most cutting-edge careers within the food and fibre industries.
Malanda State High School Agriculture teacher Dave Kilpatrick said a career in agriculture opened up a world of opportunity.
“When you think of agriculture, most would have an image of machinery and livestock, however agricultural professions come in many forms,” Dave said.
“There are university pathways to qualifications such as research technicians, engineers, biotechnologists, agronomists, veterinarians and even teachers!
“There are trade-based options for important jobs such as meat processing, butchers and chefs as well as the traditional jobs such as farm hands, ringers and livestock transport operators.
“There is one more thing that ties all these professions together – agricultural careers feed the world’s population. There is nothing more important than that.”
Entries are now open for the coveted Ag Day photo and video competition with a prize pool of $5,000 up for grabs. Entries close on Friday 17 November. For further information, go to www.agday.org.au