|An image from protests in Melbourne on Monday. This is image was found here and credited to Ellen Smith|
Let me start by giving you a bit of context about where this letter is coming from, who I am to be writing this, and why this will read as it does, why this is a topic that is close to my heart.
I am 21 years old, raised in the small country town of Wongan Hills in Western Australia for all of my years, I've been through some good seasons and some not so good ones. My family were once a farming family in this town, owning and running a decent sized bit of land just out of the town. They don't own that now, but my family are still largely involved in the farming community and what effects them- largely effects us. We own a manufacturing business now that supplies farmers with spraying equipment that is made all in our workshop. The farmers have a bad year- we have a bad year, its a chain reaction.
While I no longer have much to do with the actual act of farming, I do see, hear and know a lot about it. I have farmers in my office day in day out, I laugh politely as they whinge about their new worker not really knowing what he's doing. My eyes widen when they start ranting about the big dealerships down the road who are taking too long to repair the tractor they need. I nod in agreement when they shake their heads in frustration about the weather and ultimately, the season they're having. They're passionate about their industry, about agriculture, about farming. This is their livelihood that we're discussing, what they've been passed down from their family and what they hope to pass down to their next generation. We're talking about their source of income, we're talking about the first thing they think about in the morning and their last thought before going to bed. We're talking about an industry that truly makes Australia what it is today.
Wongan Hills is located in the central Wheatbelt area, so predominantly we are surrounded by vast cropping land, wheat, barely, canola- that type of this. That doesn't mean we are short on livestock though- sheep and cows mostly. This is what we're all here to talk about isn't it? That is the reason you chained yourself to things you shouldn't have, why you disrupted entire cities and their routes to work, why some of you are now facing jail time.
People have named you "terrorists," which I think is not the right word. I think that you are people standing up for something you feel strongly about, and you know what- I get that. I even kind of admire it, having that amount of courage is huge. But what I also think, is that you don't really get it. You don't really get farming, you don't understand animal agriculture. You don't comprehend the impact you're having on our farmers, without who- this country would not be what it is today.
Do you understand, I mean really understand these farms, the farming way of life that has been created? Do you understand that cattle is not just farmed for the soul purpose of being eaten? They create over nine hundred bi-products used in countries and cities all of the world, the actual farming creates jobs for our country that has a 5% unemployment rate. It creates incomes for families who put their heart and soul into the land.
You're storming onto this land, causing intimidation, threatening people, bullying them. You have caused fear in the farming community- farmers that are scared for their livelihoods, scared for the safety not only of their cattle and their livestock but of their families, their workers, themselves. You send threats online, you stream your protests and crusades, you hit publish on vile comments and you're destroying businesses. You accuse these farmers of not caring about their animals- but what do you know? You're taking a few cases of disgusting behaviour and running with it. They have no bearing on the acts of Australian farmers who are just out here trying to make a decent living.
My thought is this- again, I see where you are coming from, I see what you believe in, but you are going about this in the wrong way. You say this is a peaceful protest- is it though? Is threatening families peaceful? Is storming into private property and putting both animals and workers safety at risk peaceful? There is a right way and a wrong way to broach topics such as this, this is the wrong way.
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