Not very. The average consumer just goes to his local supermarket and picksup whatever he wants and has no idea who has grown it. It’s even packaged or your convenience and keeps forages and the prices you pay are at least 60% more than what the farmer gets paid.
Let’s look at it hypothetically.
If 70% of industry went out of business – especially much of big business including vehicle manufacturing, agricultural and pharmaceutical chemicals and the defence industries, at first we would find a bit of adjusting to do but we would survive! In fact some would dare to say that we might be better off because we would have a more sustainable environment.
If we reduced our political system by at least 70% what would happen? Would it really make a difference apart from saving some money and maybe some frustration? We would survive!
However if farmers reduced their output by 40% over the next 12 months the world would suffer severely as riots, anarchy and starvation would follow. Would we survive?
So it puzzles us that farmers are not treated as vital to our society.
Have you noticed how industry cleverly positions itself as number one in our society? It influences the press and the people; it lobbies governments and funds the government’s electoral campaigns and research institutes. It manipulates the farmers by providing bigger and better machinery, more fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and a continuing array of products and convincing them that they must have them so that they can farm profitably.
Then follow the governments of the Western world who position themselves as the next most important sector of society. Governments create and change laws to support industry often at the cost of agriculture. Just look at the GM industry and consider the affect that it has on the farmers’ costs! Although many support their farmers through subsidies their priority is to keep the economy running of which the farmer is simply a cog in the wheel. This makes it tough for farmers in nonsubsidised countries like Australia to compete. Yet politicians allow themselves to be heavily influenced by industry and prefer to align themselves with industry rather than with the farmers.
Farmers have been taken for granted and their position is getting worse. They are encouraged to produce more for lower returns and are forced to be price takers. The buying industry pays as little as they can for produce whilst the supply industry charges as much as it can for its products. Farmers are treated as cash cows.
Farmers must take stock of their real position and assess what their real options are. They should question big industry and government guidelines and even the decisions made by the farming organizations that are supposed to represent them.