Farmers call for drought policy reform in New South Wales

Many drought-stricken farmers across NSW have been calling for a drought policy reform that factors in major environmental issues faced every day, such as climate change.

Joel Orchard is one of these farmers. Running a small peri-urban garden in Mullumbimby on the NSW North Coast, Joel said policymakers need to ensure the voices of farmers are heard.

“Farming has historically been such an individual and isolating pursuit,” he said.

“It’s vital that we include the perspectives of farmers both at the policy and consumer education level.

READ: Australian farming sector holding up, despite ongoing drought

“At the moment, many small-scale and agroecological farmers don’t have a say in the policies that make a difference to their own working lives,” said Orchard.

He will join international expert on food security, Dr Eric Holt-Giménez, and independent researcher Eva Perroni for a panel discussion at the University of Sydney.

The University of Sydney event Building Food Utopias, will be co-presented with the Sydney Environment Institute and chaired by Dr Alana Mann from the Department of Media and Communications.

Mann said policymakers and academics alike need to get better at listening to farmers.

“As more and more farmers leave the land because of the tough conditions, Australia’s food security is increasingly under threat.

“Australia’s grocery market is the second most concentrated in the world,” he said.

Holt-Giménez said institutions and networks have an important role to play in filling this gap.

“As the food system has become privatised, our social institutions have become weakened. It’s in policy-makers’ best interests to strengthen them so that truly transformative and effective public policy is achieved,” said Holt-Giménez.