Why dairy farmers loathe their leaders

Okay, we don’t all loathe all our leaders but I’d argue that generally, we do. Far more often than I hear a word of praise, I hear our R&D body, our co-op managers and even our own elected representatives criticised for not being “real” farmers, for forgetting us, having their noses in the trough or being plain idiots.

Why? Perhaps it is because too many of our leaders attempt to be leaders rather than hosts as Lynne Strong experienced in Canberra last week. But then, perhaps it is because we are lazy.

Lazy is not normally a description I’d apply to any dairy farmer – it’s hard work – and that’s exactly why we leave so much up to our leaders. Most of us are too busy fighting alligators to swim the political waters. It’s generally the older, better established farmers with adult children running the farm who can take days off at a time to attend meetings in the city.

Of course, there’s nothing lazy about a farmer unable to attend meetings because she’s working too hard but it does mean we tend to stop thinking about what’s happening beyond the farm gate. That’s what my husband calls “laziness of the mind”. We say “they” ought to “(insert colourful adverbs here) do something about it” and stop there.

So, what’s the answer? I don’t know but I think the question is obvious: how do we get farmers and their representatives talking?

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