UNIVERSITY of WA student Georgia Reid is investigating the social impact of media coverage surrounding live export on farmers as part of her Honours project.
Through Ms Reid's Agricultural honours degree, she will speak with farmers from all over WA on their personal experiences and will be travelling to the Kimberley next week to interview live-export producers.
Ms Reid, originally from Boyup Brook, is exploring the social impact media coverage of live export has on farming families in WA, and whether the reputation of farming has been affected.
The main objective of the study is to investigate farmers view's of live export and will specifically address how live export coverage influenced farmers' opinions.
Ms Reid will investigate whether media coverage was accurate and fair and if the reputation of farmers had been harmed.
Ms Reid said the study would highlight the belief that the media targets the larger, city-dwelling population and examine the often misunderstood farmer.
WA's two main agricultural lobby groups, WAFarmers and Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) joined forces last Thursday to support Ms Reid's research and allow her to travel to interview farmers.
Ms Reid said she was extremely grateful for the support of both WAFarmers and PGA, which will allow her to hear farmers' first-hand experiences over a cup of tea, which she said was important as it was a sensitive and personal topic
Both lobby groups agreed Ms Reid's work will be relevant to the State's farmers.
PGA President Tony Seabrook said it was important to understand the social impacts of coverage surrounding live export.
"We hope Ms Reid's research will inform our actions going forward so we can better help those on the land," Mr Seabrook said.
"It's directly focused on agriculture and it looks at social implications as well.
"It's a very engaging thing to do with agriculture, and a lot of people could identify with it."
WAFarmers president Dale Park said he had long held concerns about the effect of the portrayal of live export in the media on the lives and psyches of farmers and their families.
"A lot of the rhetoric regarding live export ignores facts in favour of emotional arguments we are supporting Ms Reid to help her investigate the impact this has on our industry," Mr Park said.
"We often talk about the effects on farmers.
"In the case of loose lips sink ships, farmers have had to sell up in the past because what people do and say effects people's livelihoods."
Ms Reid has been working solidly on the background information and research since January but will have the results of her study analysed and submitted by late November.
She hopes her findings will be a platform for others to use for further research.
Ms Reid said her farming background gave her a deeper understanding of the issue, but that she would remain un-biased in her research.
"Very little research had been done regarding the social impact of live export or media coverage, nor into the beliefs of farmers this does not reflect the importance of the sector to the community," Ms Reid said.
"Farmers are important and are often overlooked.
"The issue was amplified from the live-export debate... and I saw that farmers were really suffering, but people (in the city) thought it was all rhetoric ... I thought I would research it myself and see what I found.''
Ms Reid will be touring Northern regions for two weeks from July 1 and will then speak with farmers in the South-Eastern regions until August.
"I will be talking with livestock producers for the next few months and then analysing all the information to get the results before I can write up my findings," she said. "I have about 10 interviews lined up so far, but am open to do more, especially at station properties although I know they are busy with mustering."
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