Why is it so easy to find compassion for farmers doing it tough, but so hard to find compassion for the rest of the supply chain which is also hurting?
I’ve watched with interest as the torrents of media coverage have emerged over the past weeks and months. We’ve seen countless hungry animals and sad farming kids. And I’m not saying they don’t deserve our attention, because they absolutely do. Those on our farming frontline are genuinely suffering through this drought.
But what of those behind the scenes?
I’ve seen a couple of mentions of the local businesses that struggle when farmers can’t afford to shop but apart from that I’ve seen very little about the devastating knock-on effects of this drought.
Even from those who understand the interconnectedness of the industry, and even – perhaps especially – from our politicians who should recognise that the supply chain is only as strong as our weakest link, I’ve heard barely a peep about the thousands of non-farmers who are being hurt in this drought.
Where do we talk about the 150,000 families who rely on the meat processing sector, which needs throughput to stay viable? Where do we talk about seasonal workers who find themselves out of a job? And what of the businesses, like so many of our clients, who work with and for farmers? Not just the local grocer or chemist, but the machinery manufacturers and the agri media and so many others whose success is so tied to the success of the agri sector.
The truth, I think, is that it is easy to fall in love with the romantic tale of the Aussie farmer. It’s a good story and one we should keep telling. But we also need to find ways to tell the stories of the rest of the sector, and recognise that, like agribusiness, the impact of drought does not end at the farm gate.
What do ordinary Australians need to know about the affects of drought on the agri supply chain? I’d love to hear your thoughts.