Farming is amongst the toughest jobs out there. The hours are long, there’s no guarantee of success, and there are a lot of factors at play that aren’t under the farmer’s control.
Farmers are reliant on the weather, which is something they have no control over, and often fields of crops fail due to a variety of things, such as too little rain, too much rain, hurricanes, pests, insects, wild animals (kangaroos and deer especially) and a whole host of different factors. And because of these crop failures, farmers are unable to repay their debts to suppliers and banks, and get deeper and deeper into debt. It’s a very tough situation.
Another problem which compounds the debt issues, is the big chain stores, such as Safeway/Woolworths, IGA (Independant Grocers of Australia), Coles and all the other big chain stores don’t pay farmers as much as they should for the quality of farmer’s produce. One figure which I’ve heard quoted (and which I’m unable to verify) is that farmers are paid 10c for every dollar that the chain stores sell the produce for. That’s incredibly low. Should grocery stores really be able to receive a 90% profit on goods they only have the responsibility to sell? I know it’s the market at work, but it still seems highly unfair.
The weather, failure of crops, increasing debt, long hours and minimal profit (if any) would lead any person to dispair, and it frequently does. In fact, it leads farmers to such depths of despair that many see suicide as the only option, and take their own lives. It’s a terrible situation, and there should be more community and governmental support for those who provide us with food.
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