So what should farmers be saying to other Aussies?

We’ve all been there: trapped by a bore who talks incessantly about him or herself without drawing breath. It starts off confusing, grows to be annoying until, finally, the desperation to get away and have a real conversation becomes overwhelming.

I think we farmers may be guilty of this social sin. Too often, we are presented as whingers who fail to appreciate that urban Aussies with equally as noble callings (from educating our children through to curing our cancers) can also do it tough.

In our defense, the media generally isn’t so interested in good news stories and the only time we have traditionally appeared on the 12-inch (no, make that 60-inch) screen is during a drought, flood, fire or pest-induced famine. Times when a cheery countenance would be both unlikely and ridiculous!

The face of farming throughout all the challenges was presented in a glorious Dodge Super Bowl ad the other day. In response to my post about it, farmer John Alexander, described it as, “…one of the best Ag ads out there (possibly ever), and I wish we could replicate it in Australia as soon as possible.”.

He’s not concerned that it might alienate city dwellers and neither are people like former career politician, @HenryPalaszczuk, who says, “Aussies have a quiet respect for our people on the land. This ad wold send a shiver down their backs.”.

I know that’s true of many Australians. But I want more. I want to see Australian farmers talk with non-farmers rather than at them and I hope we will learn to do it in a way that resonates for all.

The Dutch have had a go at exactly that. This ad for milk is not perfect (who wants farmers cast as peasants?) but it extends the hand of friendship to our city cousins in a way that “God made a farmer” cannot.

Love of animals, love of land, courage, humility, honesty, purity. These, the essence of Australian farming are values cherished by Australians everywhere. Isn’t it time we celebrated what unites us?

11 thoughts on “So what should farmers be saying to other Aussies?

  1. I think one of the real difficulties you face is the fact that people don’t know what is a farmer. That dodge ad, to me, represents farming of a past generation, when family farms dominated agriculture and were part of the community and shaped it.
    Now is that ag today, or is ag really super corporations like monsanto that want to dominate the industry top to bottom and trade off that family image? Lots of people are wary of that, more in crops than in livestock.
    Personally my problem with that ad is that it doesn’t show the modern farmer, who does much more with less, that is forced to innovate and research technology and look after the land because there is no longer profit in just ripping what you can out of it.


    • Thinking a bit more about it, Beeso, the modern Australian dairy farmer epitomises all the farming archetypes you describe. According to DA, 98% of our farms are still family farms and when I look out our local community, dairy is right there at its heart. It’s a different matter when it comes to the “Australian community” though.

      The modern Australian dairy farmer does have to be more resourceful than ever before – making more milk with less land and as you point out, that makes us ever more mindful of just how precious that land is.


  2. I think they are both great ads. Marian, you may be trying to read too much into both ads. Just accept the compliment from both of them.

    Keep up the great work blogging and tweeting.


  3. Marian, I’m clearly on a different page on this topic but for what it is worth.

    1. There is no such thing as ‘a farmer’. There is no one, universal, homogeneous population that can be defined simply. By ‘farmer’ do you mean a multinational like Shandong Ruyi, the Chinese company which bought Cubby Station? Jumbuck Pastoral with 5 million hectres of land and 300,000 sheep? Van Diemen’s Land Company milking 19,000 cows or is it a family owned dairy farm with 600 cows or a smaller dairy farm with 200 cows?

    2. Because of this, there is no one message that ‘farmers’ can present. The message depends on what you want to achieve. What you want to achieve should be in your business plan (or your cooperative’s).

    3. Advertisements that portay farmers as ‘noble’ or taking on a ‘calling’ are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Farming is a business isn’t it?
    Such ads simply reinforce a victim mentality that I would find abhorrent if I was a farmer. I would be yelling from the rooftop, “I dont want your damn pity or your damn empathy or you damn concern, I want you to buy the stuff I make because it is bloody good stuff at a bloody good price”.

    4. Country vs City? Meh. There are only existing customers and potential customers. Where they live, what they do, etc simply helps to identify the marketing messages that your gurus should come up with – just as there is not one group called ‘farmers’ there is not one group called ‘city consumers’. (This point was spectactularly missed by the Dev and Dale ads.)

    Sorry for my rambling Marian but I really think that selling more product is more important than making people feel good about farming. Sure the two are not mutually exclusive but one is nice, the other is essential.


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