Who Would Want To Be A Farmer?

The ABC News website today has an article regarding the glut of sweet potatoes being ploughed back into paddocks whilst farmers are lucky to get 30 or 40 cents a Kg for what they can actually sell.

There certainly was no indication of this at Coles when I paid $4.00 Kg for some the other day, and even today Coles has them on special for $1.90 Kg.

Perhaps the supermarkets might try paying the struggling produce farmers a fair price in addition to what they are doing for the drought appeals.


This is where the problem lies. Some farming is speculative and when a crop proved to be highly profitable one year, the following year others tend to join the bandwagon to see if they can cash in on its success. The additional production floods the market and causes a crash in farm gate prices.

This unfortunately is a fact of life in an unregulated market and has happened with may forms of agricultural production, some well known like aloe vera and ostriches to common crops which are less known.

Some markets have been regulated in the past such a dairy, but regulation often inflates prices and encourages lower efficiency production (those potentially on marginal land with high cost/impacts continue to farm due to high prices). The last industry I recall be regulated was potatoes in Western Australia.

Regulation would potentially suit some farmers as it would inflate farm gate prices at the expense of consumers and the export industry.

What is needed is for the industry associations to invest in research and development, such has been done with the likes of the wheat, sugar, cotton etc industry boards/association. Research and development leads not only to better yielding crops and lower per unit production costs, but also leads to post production product development. This is where it can be exciting as products can be developed to improve longevity of a product (e.g. turning bananas or sweet potatoes into flour or starches) and stabilise farm gate price fluctuations.

The only downside is that if the post production processing of the product becomes more lucrative than fresh, it can push up the fresh produce prices as fresh competes directly with the processed product demand. Such impacts are usually short term (a few years) until additional production occurs to meet the shortfall.


The wastage is shocking. Surprising there is not an export market or something


Agree, just a little thought might prevent the wasting practices of some farmers.

Also, as they store reasonably well, they could be stored for some time until there is a lull in the market.


I would use this product if I knew how! What is needed to promote it is some good recipes using sweet potato flour. Can’t be too difficult to pay cooks and chefs to come up with good ideas.


Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Chips are some of the things you can do with the vegetable, the following is a link to 121 recipes that might have some interesting ones for anyone to use:


or the following might also interest (but there may be repeats of some from the other site):

or you could try Jamie Oliver’s take on some recipes from:



Thanks, grahroll… I haven’t checked yet, but do these recipes use the flour? That’s what interests me. Sweet potato flour is something I haven’t seen yet in the shops. I’m not all that keen on it as a vegetable, but would like to try it in baking.



I have seen it in some Asian supermarkets and slso suspect it might be available in some ‘health’ food shops.

Asian supermarkets also have sweet potato noodles which we buy from time to time. They are a little firmer than say wheat or rice noodles, and are also worth trying.

Maybe the farmers could produce sweet potato flour and then manufacture products such as noodles?


Thanks phbriggs. Value-added is the way to go for farmers in these uncertain economic times. I will look for the flour and noodles next time I’m in an Asian grocery.


The flour is pretty much the vegetable dried & powdered down and so some of the recipes would indeed be able to use the flour as a substitute for the fresh. But the recipes from the links might entice you to try the sweet potato in different ways to what are the “normal” uses (such as roasted or boiled). We use the potato flour (some call it starch) among other uses, to coat some meats (particularly chicken and fish) and vegetables to deep fry them, this makes for a nice crisp and a tad sweeter coating.


Potatoe starch - flour is often used in some Asian cooking, so that made from sweet potatoe should have similar usefulness?


Yes it does but is a sweeter flour and so can lift some dishes more than just the normal potato starch.


Another disaster for Australian farmers with the sabotaging of strawberries.

As if things weren’t already bad enough with low prices in the face of a glut of fruit production, now the struggling strawberry farmers have had some grub or grubs really destroy their incomes, not to mention endangering consumers.

I sincerely hope that this grub or these grubs are caught and receive some serious penalties.

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An article regarding WA egg producers suffering from similar problems as the dairy farmers are.

We will continue to support our great FNQ egg producer, Mungalli, by buying their delicious eggs at our local Supa IGA

I thought we lived in the same country as WA, it appears the ABC think WA is no longer part of Australia if WA is ‘importing’ eggs from the eastern states.

I understand that due to quarantine measures (e.g. risk of avian flu etc), eggs are a prohibited import item. I however see that there is an exemption for importing fertile eggs (for genetic diversification/breeding?) though.


Another kick in the guts for the struggling graziers.

It certainly demonstrates the old saying “It never rains but it pours”.

A great article regarding farmers looking after their fellow farmers.


Another heartbreaking article regarding farmers having their entire crops and infrastructure destroyed by hailstorms.

If it isn’t droughts and bushfires, then it is storms and floods

They just cannot win.

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Welcome to Australia.

While there are some which are impacted by natural disasters, such as hail storms or tornadoes, there will be many others which were blessed by the same weather events without the severe consequences.


Certainly a challenge.

A couple of unexpected outcomes, and what some call bad luck is all it takes. The odds of a lotto win or picking the next Cup winner might seem certainties compared to making a living off the land.

It may explain the growth of large agricultural businesses, similar to the massive cattle empires and barons of the last century. Diversification, and spreading your risks. The alternative is to provide consistency of crop production through assurance of water supply. Unfortunately between continuing poor rainfall (drought) and over commitment of the limited water resources, it appears what might have been ok a decade past is no longer possible going forward.

Just as in cities the governments regulate land use, it may well be time the community redefines what is acceptable land use in agricultural zones.

Sustainable outcomes for rural communities, the environment and limits to the scale and type of agriculture permitted. It is becoming more apparent the rural regions of Australia can no longer continue to support poorly regulated and managed farming.

Some farmers have changed and are surviving even in these hard times, without the need to be regulated or directed. For the rest including some of the large agri-business ventures it may be their time is up if they do not change. Scaling back for them will hurt, but neither can the government nor more critically the environment continue to sustain their now unsuitable choices.

There are many not so negative stories out there.