Last week was a rough week for many Australians. Rising fuel prices was indeed the talk of the town, and not just in the farming sector for a change. Suddenly the issue was not just a regional problem. It was slapping our city cousins in the face just as it has been us for some time now.
And that’s a good thing.
Why? Because the more consumers who ‘get’ the impact of rising costs the more empathy we receive for our plight i.e., rising input costs with nowhere to turn. It starts the conversations we need to have with consumers about rising prices and sharing the load.
Last week, QFF and a delegation of our members met with The Honourable David Littleproud MP, Federal Minister for Agriculture. The discussion was positive with a range of issues put on the table. One of the key issues we discussed was rising input costs and the inability of farmers for many reasons to pass these through the chain. We cannot continue to absorb them and remain viable let alone sustainable.
It was heartening to receive assurances from the Minister that fuel pricing at the bowser was expected to ease over the coming weeks and that our fuel supply is safe. Security of supply was a concern to all our members.
One part of the discussion on security of supply was around sovereign supply of fertilisers. With prices for urea going through the roof and the difficulty in obtaining product from overseas with shipping so terribly disrupted, we are going to be at the mercy of high prices for a while yet.
And to be frank, we have made ourselves vulnerable.
It’s a timely reminder that we must consider how we can better support local manufacturing of fertiliser – sovereign supply – if someone is brave enough to give it another crack. It has been tried and failed before because the agriculture sector didn’t support it. Sure, it isn’t always going to be the cheapest, but in an unstable geopolitical and pandemic impacted environment it is our lifeline and our security. Worth thinking about.