Monday, 16 June 2008


The other day I was listening to 'The Country Hour' radio programme, which I do as often as I can. It is Australia's longest running radio show and is all about what is happening in rural Australia from the state to the whole country. It is on every weekday from noon to 1pm on AM 639.

I know I often go on about agriculture in a negative kind of way but really, the old fashioned Australian family farm is very much still the mainstream farming method in Australia and I do feel for the farmers with all the problems associated with making a living from the land. When I have a problem with my garden I often think - thank heavens I don't have to make a living out of this! I don't have anything against farmers - I know a few - and they are decent people with problems to overcome, like the rest of us. It is corporate agriculture that is the cancer of the century.

The piece I was listening to was about the plight of some wheat farmers in Western Australia who, because of the drought, had not only had 3 failed years but had no money left to buy seed to have another go this year. It seems that a whole lot of other farmers, from all over WA (and maybe Australia - I am not sure) pulled together and provided enough seed for 70 farmers to sow this year. The dear old bloke on the radio who was a recipient of this kindness was almost in tears of gratitude, as this seed would have cost him $10,000. I was almost in tears just listening to him - I stopped what I was doing and sat on a stool at the kitchen bench and thought about this while he was talking.

Australian farmers don't get any subsidies from anyone, they are on their own, and to be eligible for drought assistance takes a lot of hardship. But here in Australia farmers are there helping each other out, and isn't that good. I hear it all the time on this radio show - contact this person if you can spare some hay for cattle in such-and-such an area, is a common one. Isn't that what life should be all about - communities and people helping each other out through the bad times.

Sure, maybe they are trying to farm where it is no longer viable and maybe they should be growing in more sustainable ways and so on but, when we hear such doom and gloom every day, it is nice to know that there are still a lot of decent people around and that the feeling of connection city Australians have with the true-blue Aussie farmer is something we should all cherish.

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