What can you say about Tasmania farmers trying to grow trees for profit in what must be one of the most hostile marketplaces in the world for growing trees.
Why hostile? Tasmania is equivalent to the forest industry Middle East – a political/commercial/social war zone for the past 35 years with no peace in sight.
Are they deluded? Are they brave? Are they profitable?
They are certainly dedicated and passionate.
These farmers need to be wearing full body armour.
The ABC rural program Landline recently did a segment of farm forestry in Tasmania.
As demand for timber outstrips local supply, the CSIRO is encouraging Tasmanian farmers and private landowners to join the agroforestry sector.
Even that one promotion sentence by the ABC is enough to make me despair.
Here’s a news story the ABC did about the Landline feature:
It’s not a story I find very encouraging. In fact if I was a farmer reading this I’d be having a quiet laugh over my coffee.
As a forester I’ve been reading stories like these for the past 40 years whilst watching the forest industry march to oblivion. It’s the same old story, which hasn’t changed in 40 years. Obviously the story doesn’t work. Why?
One of the problems for these farmers is that they have no power in the political, social or commercial marketplace. They have no voice. No one represents their interests.
Notionally the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) is supposed to represent the interests of farm forestry, but they do nothing. Why? Because doing something means standing up to the politicians and a sycophantic industry.
The TFGA can’t even create a farm forestry vision for the future. Not a single policy.
So farmers like Graham and Roger are in No Man’s Land, caught between warring parties.
The ONLY basis for a successful forest industry is profitable tree growers, with minimal political and community conflict.
Tasmania is a very long way from that objective.