Farmers. Hardworking countrymen or greedy, money-hungry capitalists?

It's an unpopular opinion, especially living in a rural community. But I personally do not have all that much respect or admiration for the farmers in our country, or indeed any country.

Whilst I know some do work hard and have pure intentions I think its foolish to think any business is operating purely out of the goodness of their heart, something many people here seem to think farmers do.

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It's for profit, first and foremost.

Farming is like any business, it is done to make a profit. For some reason farmers here seem to think that their business should not come with risks, or that those risks should be mitigated by the government in some way.
Consistently during droughts, bad harvests, fires or whatever other phenomena is responsible(which ill go into more depth on later) there is cries for government help, bail outs etc.

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Now don't get me wrong, I understand we need food and whilst most of us are capable of growing food we don't so therefore we need farms. Bar a giant change in the general lifestyle of humans we are always going to need farms.
But again, just because it is something we need, does not mean these people are doing it for the "greater good" or "so you can feed your family".
They do it because they know it is a very sustainable business model. We will always need food and as our population grows we will need more.

What we don't need is 25 different brands and types of cereal on the shelf. We don't need 12 different companies mass producing bread. Now it's easy to blame these companies but they are just as at fault as the people growing and selling them the ingredients to be able to do this.

Cheap ass labour

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I can't speak for any other country but Australian farming relies heavily on foreign tourists and students. There is a minimum required amount of farm-work you must do to attain a second year visa.
This ensures a heavy flow of people into the country who have to work on a farm to stay and as such will generally endure whatever conditions presented.
There is also a large quantity of illegal or undocumented workers on these farms and as such they can be paid a very small amount in exchange for their work.

Another glaring issue is that they can be paid based on how much they harvest. Whilst this does initially seem fair it can lead to expectations being far too high for the general workforce and as such low pay for what they actually do.
Instances of people ending up making $20-$40 for a day of work are all too common. For reference minimum wage here equates to something like $150-160 for 8 hours work.

Aside from pay issues they are often treated badly because these farmers know they are disposable. They often get treated differently to the other workers or Aussie workers, though plenty of Aussies end up getting ripped off too.

Animal cruelty.

I guess it depends on how you view animals as to whether most people consider animal farming cruel.
Personally I have no problem with eating meat and think it is quite natural. That being said there are massive welfare issues within the industry that desperately need to be addresses.
Factory farming itself is horrendous but something I find worse are the ones who genuinely think they are treating their animals well and care for them.

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Realistically look at some of these practices and imagine it done to humans. It would be horrific, you would be considered a monster. For some reason you do it to an animal and it's just "business" and "She'll be right".
99% of farmers I have met think these things aren't cruel but rather a necessity to their industry. Without law reform these same farmers do not improve their practices, they do not migrate to better or more humane treatment, nothing but the threat of the law makes them improve the conditions in their industry.

Environmental damage.

At this point most people seem to acknowledge our influence on climate change, farming is a massive contributor to that.

With that aside there are numerous other environmental issues that rarely get addressed when discussing farming.
Masses of land is cleared of native forest and vegetation, reducing the habitat of native animals, impacting soil and water quality and generally destroying the biodiversity of the area.
Chemicals are heavily used in a lot of farming. Runoff from these chemicals into waterways can impact wildlife and humans.

Masses of water is used and wasted. For a country that experiences drought you would think we would want to look after the precious resource as much as possible but we still have enormous amounts of land covered in things like cotton, which as a crop use a massive amount of water. This water is often taken from places like The Murray Darling Basin or other important freshwater sources.

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Ecological disasters are becoming more common and worse in proportion. Take the recent mouse plague here for example, or the locust plague wreaking havoc on parts of Africa.
The mouse plague is a direct result of irresponsible farming practices. These farmers cleared all this land and planted something that attracts mice/vermin. They drove away all their natural predators including snakes and birds of prey. They drove away introduced predators like cats and foxes and dogs.
They created this mess and then they get on the news or Facebook or wherever and beg for help and handouts. If any other business goes under because of crappy business practice do we have sympathy? No. Why farmers? We already established this is done for profit, not as charity. So why do we care if they run their own business into the ground?

Fires, well I mean reduced trees means reduced rainfall means drier conditions means worse fire. Pretty simple.

Why I feel this way

I feel the need to justify myself sometimes, especially when I have an opinion that differs from the norm.

I grew up in a city, I love animals and I care about their welfare. I never really thought about it all that much when I lived in the city, blissful ignorance I suppose. I knew conditions for animals weren't great but I never really considered the bigger picture.

I moved to a rural community a few years back and since then have worked in a few different industries and on a few different farms. It was a bit of a shock when I first came here and saw things firsthand but the more experience I got and the more I saw the more I realised that this is normal. Not just normal but accepted practice.

I have never had a lot, I don't want to say I was poor but I was never wealthy or owned a lot.
It is very hard to sit there working hard as hell in a different industry and making very little money whilst farmers who own massive amounts of assets, huge pieces of land, new cars, new quadbikes, new tractors the list goes on. complain about how hard done by they are because a business they ran badly is not profitable for a year.

The wine industry is the perfect example of that. China introduced a massive tariff on Australian wines and people lost their minds. Those poor poor vineyard owners and winemakers. Never mind for the last decade they had been reporting record profits and are sitting on some of the most expensive,sought after pristine land in the country.
But yea, have some sympathy.

The future.

Without some changes to our large scale farming we are going to destroy the planet. We need to recognise the actual profits made and stop having sympathy and bailing out failing business.
Ideally we would all live more sustainably but failing that, farming needs to become more sustainable.



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