Australia is a country of extremes: it can be extremely hot and dry but also wet and prone to very big floods and its soils are poor and thin. Regardless of these extremes farmers have carved out livelihoods in his hostile environment. It is the story of how Australian farmers have tried to grow food and cotton, and conserve the environment, with all the environmental ignorance, the violence and courage that marked this endeavour. A new book entitled The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress. An Environmental History journeys to the inland plains of Australia and tells the story of how the arrival of modern agriculture promised ecological and social stability but instead descended into dysfunction.
This episode of the podcast features Cameron Muir, a researcher at the Australian National University and author of The Broken Promise of Agricultural Progress. This fascinating book brings together the fields of environmental, cultural and agricultural history as well as political history. It is a true tour de force that starts in regional Australia but also touches on the global food system.