WOMEN have a vital role to play in bridging the disconnect between Australian farmers and their city counterparts, according to ABC journalist and Landline presenter Pip Courtney.
Ms Courtney addressed a crowd of 120 as the keynote speaker at the Facey Group’s Women in Agriculture 2017 event at Wickepin last Wednesday, drawing attention to a detrimental culture of independence in Australian farmers.
Ms Courtney said she was frequently surprised at the lack of support farmers gave to the lobby groups that represented them - including WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA.
She said the lack of support behind lobby groups across the country meant the agricultural industry had little political influence on a State and national level.
“I am just stunned when farmers brag to me about not being members of the one organisation that can represent them,” she said.
“The image of the stoic, fiercely independent farmer is seen as a positive part of our culture, it’s celebrated in poetry, in literature, in art, but there’s actually a downside to it.
“This not-joining nonsense disempowers you all, your industry and your communities.
“Unity is everything when you’re in the bush, you don’t have the numbers so unity is all and I truly believe that women who in general are more collaborative than men and are joiners, can get this unity thing happening.”
Ms Courtney said a lack of self-promotion within the agriculture sector was evident with local businesses rarely offering local produce.
She said farmers had to take responsibility for the lack of information shared among those in metropolitan Australia.
“Often when we get to local restaurants and there’s not much which is local on the menu and if it is, it’s not even mentioned,” she said.
“Farmers often say to me, why don’t city people understand what we do and how hard farming is - the cost and stress involved?”