On the land and in country towns, the battle to survive goes on forever. Increasingly, the world needs food and fibre, but squeezes out the communities which provide them. Young people leave, farmers sell up, towns die, football teams amalgamate, communities keep reinventing themselves.

What’s going on? What can we do?

Neil Barr looks close up, and he looks at the big picture. What affects real people on the land affects everybody.

This is the second of our book summaries/reviews. Neil Barr, the author, was funded by Land & Water Australia (LWA) to write this book and it has got to be one of the best publications LWA produced (in my opinion as a non scientist)

I have to admit to being completely transfixed by this book from the moment I picked it up.  I also cannot believe I read a book on agricultural economics in two nights.  The difference is that Neil Barr has told this as story.  I am about the same age as Neil and having grown up in rural communities in NSW, I found I could relate to all the issues he was addressing.  From the impact of global markets and the buying power of the big supermarket chains, to the the impact on small country towns of the young women moving to cities to get jobs rather than staying and marrying the farmers and landholders. I was also fascinated by his descriptions of some of the unintended consequences of progress in agriculture and unanticipated climate change.

If you want to get an excellent understanding of what is happening in agricultural markets and the consequent social impacts, I cannot recommend a better read – it is particularly good for those of us who don’t have a science background, but really do want to understand how our food gets to the table and all the issues involved in this process.

Further details can be found here.