As Regional Landcare facilitator in the Murray region for the past seven years, I have regularly heard many generalised comments that “farmers just don’t care”.
These sweeping statements are usually attached to issues such as the environment, climate change, animal welfare, caring for the land and the ability of the whole population to access clean resources such as water and soil for production, places for recreation and experiences in nature.
My experience working with over 70 Landcare, producer and environmental groups involving over 6500 people across the area, tells a very different story. Farmers are at the forefront of addressing these issues in our region, adapting their farming to minimise the impact on the environment while producing quality and abundant food for the world. Landcare in this region is at an all-time high, with more people in groups than ever before, more projects being delivered and more benefits for the whole community being created through private and government investment.
What I see is more grass in paddocks, more trees, and more protected bushland. I see improved livestock systems to better match seasonal grass growth, reduce erosion and maintain soil health. I see more people getting together to address local issues and keep mentally and socially well. There is more efficient fertiliser use reducing run-off into streams and emissions to the atmosphere. There is better water quality and more native animals and plants. We know there is more and better quality produce using less resources.
These practice changes and developments over time have led to the sophisticated network of farm systems, environmental and rural social development groups that make up the Murray Landcare Collective today.
The core business of these groups together means we understand so much more about the people who do Landcare and how to support them for all our sakes because farmers do care, they Landcare!