Professor of Agriculture Ted Wolfe argues that country people must continue to rival urbanised communities for a fairer share of the public purse, the wealth of the nation.
Professor Wolfe will speak at a public lecture in Wagga Wagga tomorrow Wednesday 29 August on the topic Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap: Reflections on agricultural research, education, farming and grazing.
In promoting a new vision for agriculture, he will hand in a positive report card for agriculture in terms of productivity and sustainability.
But he believes agricultural products are too cheap to cover the cost of sustainable production and farmers need to be paid for their other contributions to the community, such as fighting fires, planting trees and maintaining biodiversity.
Agriculture is not valued highly by most Australians because they have never experienced famine, according to Professor Wolfe.
“The Australian public has never experienced starvation, the experience of which is strong in the memory of European leaders.
“Agriculture and its importance to life is part of European culture, but not part of Australian or even American culture,” he said.
Professor Wolfe believes that for a strong future for Australian agriculture, at least one member from every farm family should have a degree or trade qualification.
He also suggests that every farm family should earn at least 30 per cent of its income off the farm, to buffer the farm family against product and financial risk.
Professor Wolfe retires from CSU next month after a 38-year career as research officer, research administrator and academic.