8 April 2020

These are certainly testing times we live in, thanks to the coronavirus.

Many in our local community are staying home, venturing out every few days just to go to the local supermarket or farmers market to pick up a few essentials.

Like most Australians, my shopping list looks pretty simple; fresh fruit, vegies, a bit of meat, some pasta and hopefully toilet paper.

I buy what I need, maybe something to put away in the pantry and go straight home.

This new way of life, where an outing to buy some groceries is something of a highlight, has many of us reflecting on what we buy and where it comes from.

We’re thinking about what it takes to get cauliflower into a store, where it’s grown, who planted it and who picked it.

Some Australians are just now learning for the first time that we grow and farm enough food for us all three times over.

We truly do live in the Lucky Country.

Despite these unprecedented days, when we shop for our food we know that growers and producers are doing everything they can to get produce into stores.

The milk from Gippsland. The apples from Shepparton. The grapes from the Mallee.

The tomatoes from Mildura. The lamb from Bendigo. The cheese from Milawa.

Unlike past challenges such as the drought and bushfires, we will not need to take extraordinary steps.

This is not by accident.

Readers of The Weekly Times will know better than most that this kind of food security is only possible because of the countless weeks and months of hard work undertaken by farmers and workers in agriculture.

The planning, the planting, the tending, the harvest, the processing and the shipping out.

Every time we sit down to a meal, whether it’s meat and three veg, a Vietnamese chicken curry or an Italian pasta, we are enjoying the fruit of the labour of the quarter of a million Australians working in agriculture.

It really does start with ag.

As the industry deals with the challenges of this current crisis, we should all take a moment to thank our farmers and workers in agriculture. And we should say thanks to the rural and regional communities that support local farms.

It’s my honour to put on the record, on behalf of the community, our gratitude for growing the food we eat and the fibre we need.

Australia would be in a very different place right now if we didn’t have you. You are absolutely critical to the path we will tread to get through the coronavirus. Thank you.

This piece was originally published by The Weekly Times.