Why I Feel Guilty to be a Farmer’s Daughter
Words by Sally Taylor
Photography from Hannah Hacon – Photographer
Braced with nothing but an Agricultural Science degree from Sydney University and fond memories of visiting his family’s hobby farm when he was a child, my dad gave up his life in Sydney and moved to Moree in his late thirties to “have a go” at farming.
His plan was to stay for five years, to see what he could achieve on the land and then continue the life he and my mum had back in the city – it was a business move for him, a job opportunity. 27(ish) years, two children, lots of local friendships and a fair share of highs and lows later, my brilliant dad and beautiful mum are still there, working harder than ever on their farm well into their sixties. No longer a business move, now a lifestyle unimaginable any other way. Part of that lifestyle: adversity.
I feel guilty about being a farmer’s daughter because while my dad is dealing with the relentless drought, animal rights lobbyists publishing his personal details online and other external pressures, he has never stopped encouraging my brother and I – both in our twenties – to live our best lives in the city, both of us hundreds of kilometres away from life on the farm and neither fully committed to the possibility of one day taking the farm off his hands. No matter how difficult things at home have been, not once has he asked us to go home and help him.
I feel guilty because I haven’t been more of a campaigner for farmers like my parents. I notice more and more everyday how much my friends from the city – as gorgeous as they all are – really don’t have much of an idea what it is like for our farmers in regional Australia right now, given metropolitan media attention surrounding the drought is now somewhat “old news”. I feel guilty because even I – whose parents have worked their bums off to give me the life I am lucky to be living now – forget that there is a world outside of Bondi Beach and that I wouldn’t be eating fresh meat and vegetables in my cotton garments if it wasn’t for our farmers.
This is more of a letter to myself, a commitment to use my platform as a media professional to bring more awareness to the fact just because attention surrounding the drought isn’t as prevalent in mainstream media as it was last year, it is still a huge issue. A commitment to reiterating that regional adversities like the drought happen in country Australia frequently and relentlessly; they are ongoing and diverse in nature. One minute the ground is cracking apart from dryness, and the next seedlings are squashed from a ruthless, unpredicted hail storm.
One minute our farmers are labelled heroes, the next they are labelled “unethical” or “water thieves”. Farmers like my parents will be fine because they are resilient and, well, they just have to be fine. They will keep plugging away like they are now until they can’t anymore. In the meantime, I will do more to remind myself that life in the city is easy because of them – there is a whole economy out there in the regions without which our cities – in which we all live in so comfortably – would crumble.
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