I've been looking through some agricultural statistics today and thought it may be of interest to some of you to see, and discuss, how we are performing as a nation. In particular, I thought some may appreciate a breakdown of where the sector is collectively spending its money, and how that compares to our own permaculture projects (or potential ones). For a major aspect of permaculture, and regenerative agriculture, is not to outperform in short-term output, but by sustainably relying on less and less input. I've converted many of the stats to percentages for an easier understanding of where these budgets are being spent. Major components of Australian farm costs (ABARES 2014-15) MATERIALS AND SERVICES Fuel: 5.21% Fertiliser: 5.62% Chemicals: 3.89% Seed and fodder: 12.89% Marketing: 10.66% Repairs and maintenance: 12.60% Other: 12.23% TOTAL: 63.10% OTHER COSTS Wages: 11.17% Interest paid: 10.09% Other overheads: 1.46% TOTAL: 22.72% TOTAL CASH COSTS: 85.82% Depreciation: 14.18% Total farm costs: $38.465 billion Gross value of farm production: $53.491 billion Also worth noting how much we rely on exporting and importing food (not including other farm originated products): Value of Australian food exports (including transformed*): $38.530 billion *65.52% substantially or elaborately transformed Value of Australian food imports (including transformed**): $14.726 billion **92.51% substantially or elaborately transformed By introducing regenerative farming, and nurturing ethical communities, one can immediately picture where the costs can be saved: MATERIALS AND SERVICES Fuel: 5.21% Drastically reduced, with less and less on a regenerative farm requiring energy intensive practices. Fertiliser: 5.62% Potentially eliminated, with synthetic fertilisers scrapped from regenerative farms, to instead be replaced by animal and green manure in an eventually closed-loop system. Chemicals: 3.89% Eliminated. Seed and fodder: 12.89% Fodder potentially eliminated, once closed-loop systems are perfected. Seed would likely increase over the short-term, with the use of more cover-crops, however would be purchased from more ethical businesses, and farmers would also transition to performing more seed-saving and nursery work in a more closed-loop system goal. Marketing: 10.66% Gradually reduced over the long-term, with the development of ethical communities buying more local products on their merits rather than from marketing, and with a greater percentage of national food production dedicated to local use rather than needing to attract foreign markets. Repairs and maintenance: 12.60% Potentially slightly reduced with a decrease in use of extractive farming equipment, and other expensive buildings and machinery reliant on a system of centralisation without diversification. Other: 12.23% Who knows, but likely to reduce if including costs of water and irrigation access and services compared to long-term water harvesting strategies. TOTAL: 63.10% Drastically reduced!!! OTHER COSTS Wages: 11.17% With the drastic reduction of the aforementioned material and service costs, farming enterprises can afford to employ considerably more citizens on fair wages. This connects more people to the systems that sustain us, allowing more of our focus to be on regenerating the environment while still being economically viable. More sustainable jobs in rural and regional areas involving fundamental products and services allows a sustainable foundation for such to survive and thrive well into the future by creating the need for more jobs in providing other products and services. More people in communities who can afford to buy local products provided by regenerative farms. Interest paid: 10.09% Instead of paid to corporate banks and their distant, exceedingly wealthy shareholders, this can be paid to community and superannuation funds that provide security for our potentially earlier retirements and for future generations. Other overheads: 1.46% Minimal likely change. TOTAL: 22.72% TOTAL CASH COSTS: 85.82% Depreciation: 14.18% Minimal likely change in total, just a shift across different areas. This is just a very basic outline of some statistics to get an overall picture of where the possibilities are in relation to the "big picture" and where permaculture principles and regenerative agriculture fit in. As one would notice, the greatest opportunities come from cooperation within organised communities of like-minded people, taking closed-loop principles often limited to the design and management of the farming operations themselves, to the design and management of certain aspects of the wider community as a whole, ensuring that resources (including financial) are not leaving the community to profit others when they could instead be predominantly profiting the community itself. It is the formation of such sustainable, cooperative communities that ought to be our focus as permaculturists in achieving our "big picture" ambitions. The project I'm working on is focused on perhaps the undeniable initial requirement for such: capital. I'm working on the development of a superannuation fund that will be looking to maximise our collective wealth to invest in such permaculture precincts, to play a key role in redistributing wealth and power from the exceedingly wealthy, and often distant, few to communities and the citizens that make them prosper and thrive. Would like to hear the perspectives of others, perhaps experiences with balancing their budgets, and how much certain factors (costs, yields etc) played a positive or negative role. Or just wider discussion on where people believe the improvement lies for actually realistically transitioning to more ethical farming practices and communities.