A dedicated and passionate ‘agvocate’, Callan Daley wants to change the way farming is perceived in Australia and is particularly eager to eradicate the sometimes-negative language used to describe the agriculture industry.
Growing up on a farm in remote north-western Queensland, 100 kilometres from the nearest town of Longreach, Callan says he never fully appreciated farming as a full-time job and instead felt compelled to describe the work as ‘just farming’.
Callan’s efforts to extend the positioning of agriculture began after winning the ABC’s Heywire competition in 2015, a storytelling competition for young people living in regional or rural Australia.
His profile as one of Australia’s leading ‘agvocates’ really took off after he presented at Australia’s leading ag-tech conference, evokeAG in 2019.
Entering the evokeAG stage dressed as a farmer in a traditional work shirt, casual jeans and an Akubra, midway through his speech Callan proceeded to don a tie and glasses to give the appearance of a businessman.
The theatrics were the vehicle for his message, we need to dress agriculture up in a hypothetical suit and tie’.
This message caught the attention of rural and regional Australia alike as discussions around widening the profile of Australian agriculture continue to take centre stage.
According to Callan, the process of changing the perception of Australian agriculture will happen little by little but a potential starting point for change is changing the language we use.
“I think a starting point is the visual and verbal perception and changing the language in agriculture, I think that is what I consider a starting point,” Callan said.
“I don’t like talking solely in macro terms, it’s all good and great to attend a conference and talk about all the big issues we’re facing but I believe if you don’t give people something smaller that they can take back and start implementing in their life to improve agriculture then you just end up treading water which is why I like to talk about language.”
One-way Callan says we can raise the profile of Australian agriculture is to stop referring to the job as ‘just’ farming and instead recognise the incredibly diverse and often complex work that farmers do.
Removing the word ‘just’ eliminates a large part of the negative connotations around farming as it encourages people learn to see the career as a viable and respected option.
A goal of Callan’s is to eliminate the early biases that develop in people from a young age, regardless of whether they are involved in agriculture.
“As a kid, even though I came from an agricultural background, I had a really bad mindset, saying things like my parents are ‘just farmers’ and thinking my mum doesn’t have a degree so maybe it’s not a profession.
“They [farmers] are really skilled individuals and it’s a really professional environment.”
In a rapidly evolving industry like agriculture, Callan said it was hard to say what the future of the industry held but he was confident that raising the profile of agricultural education was an important priority.
“I think that’s the next step, elevating the perception of agriculture – both inside and outside our industry.”