A more than usually depressing Compost edition: hopefully the cartoons will lighten the mood, particularly Golding’s riffs on my favourite Aussie icon, the democracy sausage occasioned by the by-election in the seat of Wentworth, New South Wales.
The new normal? How climate change is making drought worse
‘For people suffering from lack of income, both in town and farm, drought is awful and relentless as each day dawns an overwhelming blue. Often communities get so focussed on surviving from day to day, it is difficult to see a bigger picture. While the consequences of drought for regional communities don’t change, the conversations about it are changing, centring more and more on best management in a changing climate. What if this is the new normal?’
An excellent series of articles that ought to inform government policy…but with government’s focussed on the next election and staying in power the kind of long term strategies argued for here are unlikely to be listened to let alone implemented
Helping farmers in distress doesn’t help them be the best: the drought relief dilemma
‘Agricultural productivity depends on two main factors. First, innovation – adopting new technologies and management practices. Second, structural adjustment – shifting resources towards the most productive sectors and most efficient farmers. Supporting drought-affected farms has the potential to slow both these processes, weakening productivity growth. This gives rise to an acute dilemma: should we support farmers in distress, or support the industry to be the best it can be?
Depressingly there is no sign that the $5 billion being pumped into the Future Drought Fund over the next decade, as announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will tackle the hard questions posed in this article.’
Supermarkets are not milking dairy farmers dry: the myth that obscures the real problem
Dairy farmers’ weak bargaining power means any higher price paid by supermarkets to processors would not necessarily result in higher farm-gate prices. The ACCC report notes that farmers get no more money for the milk that is sold at higher retail prices (such as branded milk). Processors, not supermarkets, set farm-gate prices in response to market conditions (global and domestic demand), at the minimum level required to secure necessary volumes. Farmers are not paid according to the type or value of the end product their milk is used in. They are paid the same price for their raw milk regardless of what brand goes on the container.’
Another article that exposes the politics of sloganeering instead of engineering systemic change.
Australians love Asian food, so why doesn’t it win as many awards as Italian?
“My criteria for writers is the ability to write, taste and reflect on their experience in a restaurant — the colour of their skin or their cultural background doesn’t come into it,” Rigby says.
Which rather begs the question of where she looks to find these writers. A timely stirring of the pot…err I mean wok.
Three charts on: how and what Australians eat (hint: it’s not good)
‘The report shows little has changed in Australians’ overall food intake patterns between 1995 and 2011-12. There have been slight decreases in discretionary food intake, with some trends for increased intakes of grain foods and meat and alternatives. The message to eat more vegetables is not hitting the mark. There has been no change in vegetable intake in children and adolescents and a decrease in vegetable intake in adults since past surveys. The new data show all Australians fall well short of the recommended five serves daily. We are closer to meeting the recommended one to two serves of fruit each day.’
Of course, the crux of the matter is that marketing pushing discretionary choice products that contain sugar, saturated fats and salt are aimed at precisely the youngest ages during which we form our discretionary food choice patterns.
Working to reclaim and rebuild our food systems from the ground up
‘One thing is clear. Separated more by time and capacity than ideological approach, groups and communities working for a better food system are mobilising across Australia. Our food system is ripe for repairing, reclaiming and revisioning.’
The challenge is to scale up within a framework of social justice.