When I was a kid, our local town of Millaa Millaa was a thriving community. It had a cheese factory, a sawmill and heaps of dairy farms. It also had a lot of young hard-working farming families. On our road alone there were 32 children who hopped onto the bus to go to school every day – and now there are none. Farms have become much larger, the farmers are ageing – now in their fifties and sixties, and their children have grown up and most of them have left home. The next generation can’t afford the farm nor the farming life and most opt to make their living outside a rural community for themselves and their own children. How did this happen?
Everyone loves things to be cheap and the supermarkets have listened to the masses and have applied pressure on food prices to get more customers to visit their stores.
The farmers who have survived these current low prices have had to be resilient and efficient to still be farming. Farms have become larger so that one farming family instead of five can make a living on say 1000 acres.
Get big or get out.
Farmers have also embraced technology using more heavy machinery, synthetic salty fertilisers, monocultures of the best plant cultivars, agricultural poisons artificial insemination, feedlots, genetic modification.
All to survive whilst still meeting the supermarkets harsh demands to supply people with cheaper food.
But can this be sustained?
I don’t think so which is why Mungalli is trying to do things a bit differently.