We often hear of calls for cheaper food and indeed the two major supermarkets have over time run various campaigns that focus on just that, the dollar milk promotion is one case in point.
The question though is, should we be supportive of such moves, particularly when such approaches mean that our farmers cannot receive a decent return for their effort.
No one is suggesting that basic food should be excessive in price, but we should be ensuring that it is fair and equitable to those who produce it.
Let's be clear, farming is hard work, it is often all consuming of time and limited resources, by its nature it demands all that a farmer has to give and much more. On a farm there are no holidays, no Christmas or Easter or public holidays and often very little time off.
The fact is that livestock still require managing and feeding, Christmas day or not, crops still need irrigation and checking, Easter or not.
Farming is an all year-round occupation that often has as many challenges as opportunities, as farmers we are very dependent on the weather, which itself is no longer reliable, we are subject to numerous outside influences that indirectly or directly impact our livelihoods.
A decision made in a board room on the other side of the world could mean the end of a farming enterprise in Tasmania, processors come and go or are themselves consumed by bigger and bigger corporates.
The world remains a challenging place to farm and the commitment that goes into producing our food and fibre should never be underestimated or under-recognised. Cheaper food is one thing but if the producer of that food does not receive a reasonable return and have the ability to make a decent livelihood, then in time they will simply stop producing.
That is a situation that in Australia and Tasmania we should not entertain or allow to happen, foreign investment in agriculture is a discussion for another day, however we should not allow ourselves to be reliant for our food on overseas countries.
We must maintain a vibrant and productive agriculture sector in Tasmania, one that ensures that our farmers are rewarded for their hard work, one where we have food security and one where we can feed ourselves and those fellow Australians that rely on our food.
Easy to say, I know, but next time you are in the supermarket looking at the fresh and healthy produce, produced by Australian farmers, spare a thought for all the hard work that went into producing it.
- Peter Skillern is the chief executive of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association