Bredbo Valley View farm - providing quality education in Permaculture and sustainable living practices.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

There's a long way to go

With the Cook back everybody is happy again at home, especially me. We managed to get a couple of things done over the weekend– fixing the pigs electric fence was one and hanging a gate on the pig yards was another. All together things are ticking along.

I had to drop some paper work off at the DECC offices in Queanbeyan this afternoon and I was listening to the ABC. They ran a story about the Animal Liberation Group and a planned advertising campaign about intensive/factory chicken farming. I’m no fan of any intensive farming, and any attempt to make people more aware of hoe their food is grown has to be a good thing. Anyway the poster they had produced to hang in places like railway station and bus stops showed a family sitting at a table having a roast dinner. The caption posed a question asking how cruel the dinner was and then described the farming practices and methods used to supply the chicken in the dinner.

But apparently this dialogue was seen as being offensive to children; it may scare them or frighten them. What a load of bull. Surely a child would have to be over eight or nine to understand the language and much older to understand the concepts. People need to be aware that animals need not suffer to provide us food and they need not be farmed so horribly to provide us cheap food. No body argues with Telstra when they charge you 25c to make a phone call – then charge you line rent, then charge you installation for your modem and so on, it’s just a cost people pay. And food should be no different, if it costs a little more to produce best quality and ethically farmed produce then people should have to pay the farmer.

This opens up another array of issues, about how profits should be shared and who should be payed what. Dairy farmers, for instance, are paying higher water, feed and energy costs then ever before but are having their returns cut by milk processors. We haven’t seen any reduction in price of milk at the supermarket, there is no shortage of milk and we aren’t exporting more. So where is the money that we pay for milk going? I don’t know – I’ve searched the internet looking for a reason, but I’ve come up blank. The only thing that has gone up are the share prices of the multi nationals that extort our farmers.

One day we are all going to wake up and find out there aren’t any farmers anymore. There won’t be any fresh fruit, meat or milk. We’ll have to pay above market prices for below quality food, food that we don’t really know how it’s been produce or what has been sprayed onto it.

I was also disturbed by another issue that I discovered last night whilst watching Australian Story. I’ve never been a fan of the CSIRO either, they’ve been the lynch pin in a number of disasters over the years, remember the cane toad and more recently gene technology – I won’t blame them for DDT but they did encourage its use.

The story was about Maarten Stapper a former CSIRO Scientist who now specialises in soil biology and fertility. Biological farming has been around for years, but because it uses natural methods that are easily produced on the farm the requirement for the Agro industrial’s to supply millions of litres of chemicals is significantly reduced. So there are no grants of funds form the Agro giants or the Government for research or testing. Dr Joan Daly Head of CSIRO Agribusiness basically spelt it out; if you can’t commercialise something then it’s not the type of science that CSIRO is interested in. As a tax payer who pays her wage and foots the bill for her organisation I am dumb struck at her attitude – is she really a Scientist or just a grant chaser not really interested in the real out comes that will benefit peoples health and the environment – I question her ethics.


Geoff said...


I'm not really sure we should avoid scaring our children over factory farmed food. It is a serious issue that they should be scared of. Whilst some of the concepts remain abstract for our 7 year old, and the younger ones still have no idea, they are growing up with an ever expanding understanding of what happens out there and why we try to grow more of our own food and shop ethically where we can't grow it ourselves. It's the best way to change the future!

Valley View said...

Hey Geoff

I'm with you. Our kids enjoy knowing the food they eat comes from their farm. We have children come and stay with us for weekends who have no idea about these things until the kids explain to them, in their own words, why we do what we do. I read your blog as well, you've got some interesting stuff up there.