The Murraylands' reputation has been compromised by ever-increasing intensive farming moving into the area.
I'm alarmed at the sheer quantity of sheds and feedlots established over recent years, with sadness and disease intrinsic to the business model.
The potential biosecurity risks and real animal welfare breaches in these intensive holdings I would actively discourage for Barker, in favour of innovative plant-based agriculture and processing enterprises instead.
I would also seek to attract more free-range, organic animal producers to the sector, reinstating the small-scale family farming model I understand the area traditionally possessed and ethically raised produce that modern consumers now demand.
While keen to transition towards plant-based alternatives, I realistically appreciate that such change takes time.
In the interim, I wish to improve the transparency of local meat processing to ensure best animal welfare practices, and also optimise the confidence and wellbeing of workers in the mix.
I have been approached by local abattoir employees who welcome mandatory CCTV to their workspaces.
Reduced self-esteem and mental health challenges, due to a lack of public trust in the integrity of meat processing, will be significantly improved with cameras in all areas where live animals are present.
Barker can be a vital, innovative, compassionate food production region, and I see that future within our grasp.