Australia has no national food security policy. No national agriculture policy. We know what has been going on with water allocations and there is still no national response. Those with the means and access shop at farmer's market and order their brunch referring to the origins of their eggs, bacon, butter, tomatoes and greens. But do they really know and understand where their food comes from? And how they can influence decisions made around the land use, trade policy and economic future of Australia? 'I'm starting to think that after living on a farm for 25 years, I might now learn the art of agriculture at the age of 54. Because food matters. Where food comes from matters. The landscape that provides our food matters. And if you accept those propositions, we need a conversation about what we want from our food producers, our farmers. We need to think about what we want our regional landscapes to be. Because honestly, talking to farmers as I do in my home town and in my work, I think we could look back in a decade and find we have lost a fair chunk of middle growers. The in-betweeners. What we will have left is small specialised food producers who cater to niche eaters with decent incomes and vast entities churning out cheap food demanded by markets controlling our rural landscapes and our water. In that scenario, Australia would revert to the squatters' blocks of days past-vast estates with sporadic populations dotted through the countryside. Which is fine, I guess, if that is what Australia wants. As long as it is an informed decision.'
Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Prior to that she worked at The Australian, ABC radio, The Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and even a recipe book. The daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved from the Canberra press gallery to marry a sheep and wheat farmer in 1996 - the year Pauline Hanson was first elected to federal parliament. She noticed the economic and cultural divide between the city and the country, the differences in political culture and yawning gap between the parliament and small town life. So in September 2017, she swapped interviews with politicians with interviews with ordinary people on her main street to discover why they think politics has moved so far from their lives. The result is Rusted Off- Why country Australia is fed up . In the process, Gabrielle draws conclusions about the current state of our rural political representation, the gap between city and country and how to bridge it.
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