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Down and Dirty

The Five Biggest Threats to Agriculture Today

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Five biggest threats to farming

Farming is not the industry it once was. It’s getting tougher to make a profit and be competitive in the current market. Here we look at the five biggest threats of farming in Australia today.

Profitability is a threat in every industry but looking at the statistics in farming it’s simply startling. The average farm owes over $460,000 ($1.4 million for cattlemen) and has lost money 7 out of the last 22 years. Average yields have plummeted by 80%. The costs of farming continue to rise, since 1970 fertiliser prices have skyrocketed a jaw-dropping 1,560%.

Threat number two, conventional farming practices are ruining soil health. Since Australia’s European settlement 80% of farmed soils’ carbon has been lost. The use of Nitrogen fertiliser has decreased in efficiency by 66% since 1970 and has caused lower nutrient uptake in crops and pastures.

Three - weeds, pests and disease are out of control in Australia. Farmers spend an approximate $3 billion on weed, pest, and soil problems every year. Pesticides are just not working. There are now 388 weeds and 577 insects that are resistant to pesticides.

Animal health is being compromised. Poor nutrition and ineffective drenches are just some of the challenges facing farmers. It is staggering to know that parasite resistance to drenches occurs on 90% of farms. Research has found that calving rates for pastured cows with poor nutrition are 90% lower than cows with optimum nutrition.

Lastly, exposure to traditional pesticides is causing high rates of disease for farmers and their families. For farmers there is a 40.8% higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. Farmers and their families are seeing 79.5% higher incidence for leukemia and lymphoma. Male farmers have a 136.7% higher incidence of prostate cancer.

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