“Sleep’s overrated,” Dad would mumble over his Uncle Tobys Plus at 7am in the morning. Rugged up in a dark navy coat to match the bags under his eyes and the dusting of black stubble across his jaw, ‘Sowing Time Dad’ was akin to a mythical creature in my childhood eyes.
‘Sowing Time Dad’ is an April – May phenomenon that can only be found in the house between 4am and 7.15am. For the rest of the time he is stationed in the tractor with empty Coke cans and a 5L water bottle by his feet, calculating a million variances while he hauls a green air seeder and its precious cargo of crop seeds behind him.
Now, he shares those ruthless hours with my brother.
On this National Ag Day, I’ve been reflecting on how proud I am to have grown up with ‘Sowing Time Dad’ and all of my other Dads throughout the year. Other favourites of mine are ‘Harvest Dad’, weary but excited about filling up his silos with a year’s worth of work, and ‘Shearing Dad’, contemplative and chatty while we bring woolly merinos into the yards and take bouncing shorn ones back to their paddocks.
The food I see in my local supermarket takes me back to many of my happiest memories. I think every child in the world should be lucky enough to have the upbringing I had, running around in waving crops that extended above my head and into the sky.
I wonder – if everyone felt what I felt, would more people understand the weight of their purchasing power? Would they more likely support ‘up, up, the prices are up’?
Farms are some of the most sophisticated workplaces on the business landscape. The sheer efficiency we’ve achieved with aerial imagery, robotic systems and GPS tracking complement the depth of expertise and experience held by the people in our agriculture sector. Our systems and standards are some of the strictest in the world, and it’s reflected in the quality of our produce. And we – Australia – have achieved this. More than 99% of Australian agricultural businesses are wholly Australian owned. How proud we should feel!
COVID-19 saw people rushing our supermarkets in fear, until the fear gave way to the realisation that our food growers firmly have our back. They aren’t ‘battlers’, searching for a helping hand. They are professional businesses; efficient, productive, able to withstand the harshest business environments to fill our shelves with premium product every day.
Today, on National Agriculture Day, I put it to Australian consumers – where you have the opportunity to pay more for your food and fibre, do it proudly. You’re paying for a designer product.
I spend less time on the farm these days. But golly do I smile when I think about my Dad and my brother, and the women and men like them who feed Australia – and other parts of the world – every day.