Tasmanian Farmers' Advocacy Echoes Beyond National Headlines

08 March 2024

In mid-July 2005, Tasmanian Farmers embarked on a critical journey, boarding the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to Melbourne. Their mission was to drive their tractor convoy 2,100km, converging in a community-led protest in Canberra.

Dubbed the "Fair Dinkum Food" advocacy campaign, this movement reached a fever pitch on the steps of the nation's capital, after the staggering loss of 77 million dollars’ worth of contracts for peas and potatoes growers.

In a last-ditch effort to save the Tasmanian Vegetable industry and improve Australian country-of-origin labelling laws, these farmers stood up to protect the livelihoods of vegetable growers and their communities.

Organiser Richard Bovil showing the indomitable spirit of the movement was reported at the time as saying this was a fight that he had to win for the survival of his community.

In a show of bipartisanship, politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Brandon Liberal MHR Mark Baker, and then Premier Paul Lennon rallied to the cause, speaking to protesters outside the federal parliament in Canberra on August 11.

This is a well-remembered advocacy effort that was instrumental in reforming our labelling system and igniting the idea of purchasing locally-grown produce.

Many people saw and remember this effort, but many other successes go unnoticed, like our advocacy work on issues such as land tax or our efforts on the fire levy and the North West Transmission line. These wins might not grab national headlines, but they are still valuable outcomes. Joining and supporting our organisation is worth it because of these results and pays for itself.

I've been speaking to many people coming into the role and some members of the rural community, who have been positively surprised at the role we play in supporting the ag industry and the value our organisation provides. In some cases, people have needed help and haven't known where to go.

For TasFarmers to advocate on your behalf, we need to understand the community's needs by talking and collaborating with you. In plain terms, we can’t read your mind, but we will proudly advocate on behalf of members' concerns to deliver outcomes for the sector.

Our most recent effort to collaborate with members has produced a milestone in our advocacy efforts. Together, we developed an election strategy and comprehensive policy package aimed at influencing the state's political debate. This package has been warmly received by the major political parties and candidates demonstrating the effectiveness of our collective approach.

With Agfest now not far away, if you're a member of a community group, this is a perfect opportunity to drop in and talk around the kitchen table, but more importantly, if there's something on your mind. Give us a ring now.