Newly-merged and re-badged farm services company, Nutrien Ag Solutions, is pumping $500,000 into to the national campaign to get Australia talking about agriculture and understanding what farmers do.
Nutrien, the new name behind the the combined Landmark and Ruralco business, has stumped up the biggest contribution to the national-wide industry engagement initiative so far.
Managing director, Rob Clayton, will also join the “We are Australian farmers” campaign steering committee alongside such corporate big guns as former Wesfarmers chief turned Qantas chairman, Richard Goyder, and Coca Cola Amatil managing director, Alison Watkins.
The National Farmers Federation, which launched the public engagement push with a promotional video last month, has confirmed other agribusinesses have committed cash, too.
Our industry as a whole needs to move fast to engage with the community, particularly urban Australians
However, significantly more company and farmer group funding was needed to help combat a widespread lack of understanding about how or why farmers operate.
“The middle of a roaring drought is not an easy time to pass the hat around,” said NFF chief executive officer, Tony Mahar.
“Our industry as a whole does, however, need to move fast to engage with the community, particularly urban Australians.
“Activists put ads on buses and taxis and websites to ram home their ideas, but we want to promote a proper conversation in the community, across social media, traditional media or in public forums.”
The NFF also wanted to celebrate the common ground shared by city and country people.
Mr Mahar said to recent research showing Australians generally felt supportive of farmers, but there was a concerning and increasing disconnect within the nation’s urban majority and their understanding of how their food and fibre was produced.
A representative survey of more than 1000 people by JWS Research conducted in September found two thirds of Australians did not “feel connected to the bush”.
However, about 80 per cent felt agriculture made an important contribution to the national economy.
Importantly, respondents also highlighted community interest in agriculture’s environmental challenges and related issues, and welfare standards in livestock industries.
Yet, when asked about their knowledge of agricultural activities, 58pc said they knew only “a little” about the sector.
Overall, 85pc said they knew something, but this was only superficial knowledge.
Capitalise on the trust factor
“We want to capitalise on that high level of support for, and trust in, farmers, but various sectors of our industry have their risk areas which require all of ag to engage and connect with the community,” Mr Mahar said.
“We have to keep informing, and aligning our discussion with the topics and practices people outside agriculture may not relate to.
“We must also talk about what challenges we have and what things we have to work on.”
The “We Are Australian Farmers” campaign would start that conversation to better connect all Australians with agriculture and people behind it.
Agriculture was “a great story based on the shared values of farmers and all Australians”.
Nutrien Ag’s Mr Clayton said his company – the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services – was proud to be in the business of working with croppers and graziers producing some of the world’s best quality food and fibre.
Focus on ag support
“We are 100pc focused on supporting Australian growers, delivering innovation and expertise to the farm gate, and supporting them to feed the future.”
“We’re excited to be part of this important initiative and teach consumers about modern agriculture.
“Australian farmers have so much to be proud of.
“They care for over half of the Australian landscape and sustainably produce food and fibre to feed our nation and many around the world.
National Farmers’ Federation president, Fiona Simson, who chairs the campaign’s advisory group, said campaign activities would ramp up during 2020.
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The story Nutrien puts $500,000 into NFF bid to get Aussies thinking ag first appeared on Farm Online.