April 30, 2018
Queensland Rural Ambassador Christie McLennan made an impassioned plea on behalf of rural Queensland while officially opening the Nanango Show at the weekend.
Christie, from Taroom, issued a challenge to showgoers to make their farms relevant to today’s consumers while still maintaining their agricultural heritage.
“I have watched the debacle of the vegetation laws unfold and the shocking footage off the export boats,” she said.
“Let’s face it, the media coverage of primary industry is not going the way of the farmer.
“In an era where we are so ‘connected’ with each other via social media, the city world seems to have become disconnected and disillusioned with the bush.
“Instead of every family in the city knowing a rural family and the challenges of life out here, they rely on the media, hearsay and the internet to learn what ‘rural life’ is all about.
“It’s a well-known fact that fewer people are living in remote areas.
“And because of this, the economy, media and government policy is becoming more concentrated in cities and larger regional centres.
“But don’t think that this ‘great divide’ just applies to farming families.
“Every family that lives in the bush needs access to good healthcare, education and infrastructure to live.
“If more and more leaders of Australia (either business or government) are growing up with no idea of what goes on out here, I guarantee that we will all suffer.
“So where do we start?
“We need to sell our story better. Our next generation of consumers, the Millenials, will account for 54 per cent of the population by 2030.
“Their ethical views and consumer dollars are shaped very differently to what we have seen in the past.
“They want the story, the ethical belief, that what they are consuming is in the best interest of ‘the planet’.
“They want to engage with brands on social networks. They want to co-create products with companies, feel like the process.
“Yet, ironically, most of them don’t own their own vegie garden and have never ridden a horse. The ‘experience’ they want is generally delivered by virtual medium, not real world experience.
“So it’s up to us to fight for the future of the bush, keep ourselves relevant whilst maintaining our cultural heritage.
“We cannot just sit back in the paddock and think that the problem is far removed. Because even if you don’t deal with the general public, they are still your end consumer and we want them to keep consuming, be it beef, pork, peanuts or timber.
“So what else can you do? Invite your city friends out for a visit and showcase what we have. Teach your children the importance of knowing where their food and fibre comes from.
“Start utilising not only the power of social media but mainstream media and influencing our policy makers to show them what we do, who we are and what we stand for.
“Create brands and market our products in a way that we are proud of; we can’t let a few bad apples spoil the barrel.
“Encourage young people to join competitions such as Miss Showgirl and Rural Ambassador to give themselves a voice.
“Show everyone that today’s rural population and agricultural industries are moving with ethical trends and care about sustainable futures for our families.
“Be proud of where you come from and what you do and tell people how essential agriculture is and how relevant it is for the future.”