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EDITORIAL: Opportunity reminder

The entire September 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

One of the great shining lights amid the grey of the COVID-19 pandemic must surely be the resilience, results and prospects of our agricultural industry.

And if Wimmera-Mallee broadacre production meets industry expectations this season, our patch might be in a position to rebound, in many ways, quicker than other parts of the country.

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We all know that good farming seasons are a major stimulant for economic health and at the same time fill up the tanks of regional confidence. 

From a financial point of view, it’s all about business generating money for people to spend, which in turn has a domino effect on society generally.

But just how well do we in the regions exploit the opportunities good agricultural seasons provide and the tonnes of produce we grow and export?

For some of us in the regions indirectly involved in agricultural production, it can appear like we as communities only ever take the cream of good seasons and commodity prices and are content to let others enjoy the lucrative bread-and-butter spoils. What does this mean? That while our farmers and their supporting businesses are among some in the best in the world at production, our region, apart from the odd exception, presents an example of missed opportunity in value-adding processing.

We grow food and fibre, sell it and send it away for someone else along the chain to develop, manufacture and process – ultimately for the socio-economic benefit of other communities and regions.

It has been well documented that the amount of agricultural-product processing in the Wimmera-Mallee is miniscule in comparison to what we actually grow and sell. Is it just me, or does this fall well short of capitalising on an obvious advantage?

We’re talking about final products including everything from beer, bread, porridge and plastic plates to jumpers, socks and suits and every conceivable food-and-fibre product in between.

The COVID-19 phenomenon has exposed all sorts of fragilities and weaknesses in society structures and processes. 

At the same time it has also revealed or clarified many opportunities.

The prospect of a highly successful farming season and an expectation of tonnes of produce as a result, tends to galvanise the perception of opportunity.

Government and industry insiders have predicted national agricultural production value to tip over a record $73-billion this season.

In the Wimmera-Mallee we’re well and truly in the mix of it all and it is when times are good that we, whether it be via private, community or government investment, must explore opportunities and where possible seize the initiative. 

If we can add value to what we do and produce, we add strength and longevity to our communities.

The question is, how do we make it happen?