By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard

Over the festive period a number of city folk will have packed the car and travelled into the regions to catch up with their farming relatives.

If they completed the same trip last year they might have noticed changes in the countryside on their way. Hopefully greener pasture, fuller dams and fatter livestock.

Once arrived they might have been greeted by a swarm of flies, a pack of farm dogs making an eager inspection, and by talk of the weather, the harvest and the market.

Depending on the farm, they’ll have witnessed a flurry of activity as crops were harvested, or else not much at all as their fellow family members took a well-earned break.

One thing in particular that will have struck these city folk if they had reason to think about it, is the stark difference in the rhythm of life on the land.

Where their own lives are dictated by the demands of the daily grind, the lives of their farming relatives are determined each day by the weather, and longer term by the changes in the season which in turn effect the habits and behaviours of the crops or animals they tend.

They would realise, just like the food they eat, that people are seasonal too. That there is a time for growth, for action, and also for rest. And that these are distinctly different times.      

But too few of our city cousins nowadays make this trip. And far too few of those who make the laws and regulations governing our lives will get anywhere near a farm, let alone develop a deep understanding of how agriculture works.

If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make law that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons.

Before COVID-19 overtook our lives, perhaps the biggest challenge the horticulture industry was managing was the introduction of penalty rates for overtime. It remains an enormous issue that will go on negatively impacting the lives of employers and employees alike unless addressed.

The introduction of overtime hinges on the assumption that everyone can and should live the same way across Australia, regardless of the industry and irrespective of the season.

This coming April will mark two years since overtime was introduced. It’s been an ordinary time. But luckily, like the seasons, laws can change too and that’s what Growcom with our industry colleagues will be seeking to do.