THE long-term worth of the Australian Year of the Farmer has been questioned by a leading farm policy analyst.
Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh said it was likely last year's rural theme would only have a short-term value and that promoting Australian farm produce to consumers would have had more of a lasting impact.
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He said there had been some positive benefits from the AYOF, but questioned whether opportunities had been lost.
State and federal governments gave $784,000 to the campaign, which also relied heavily on corporate support, particularly from Elders Rural Services.
Financial troubles caused the cancellation of several major events last year including B & S balls, the Innovation and Technology Expo set for Melbourne and also the Food of Origin Extravaganza.
They were cancelled along with the showpiece roadshow, which absorbed most of the campaign's budget after travelling more than 180,000km when it was supposed to travel only a third of that distance.
Mr Keogh said it was difficult to quantify real returns from the public investment in AYOF but said they were likely short-term.
He said it was likely "a government analysis of the AYOF promotion would conclude that the benefits to the wider community were at best marginal and short-lived, and that there are other ways in which funds could be spent to generate greater net community benefits".
He said the impact of the AYOF could have helped contribute to the widespread trust given to farmers, and exploited in supermarket advertising campaigns.
Mr Keogh doubted this "trust" had translated into favourable political decisions.
He said promoting Australian farmers and the farming lifestyle to Australian consumers had undoubtedly resulted in some benefits for the industry, but unfortunately these were likely to be limited, and short-lived.
Former AYOF managing director Geoff Bell yesterday said he had no comment to make on Mr Keogh's claims.