Farm viability questioned

04 Dec, 2012 04:00 AM
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WA Liberal MP Nola Marino (front) with National Farmers Federation CEO Matt Linnegar and NFF president Jock Laurie.
WA Liberal MP Nola Marino (front) with National Farmers Federation CEO Matt Linnegar and NFF president Jock Laurie.

WEST Australian Liberal MP Nola Marino used the final week of federal parliament for 2012 to highlight mounting pressure on the financial viability of farmers.

Ms Marino said despite releasing the National Food Plan green paper, the government was “long on rhetoric but short on substance”.

“It is a paper that demonstrates again no understanding of the problems facing food production and food producers in Australia,” she said.

“If a business cannot make a profit then the business closes and frequently that is what is happening to agriculture and food producers in Australia.

“On the land we need to make sure that every hectare counts, but many of those doing the work cannot make a living.”

She said the paper made no attempt to address farm viability and market access, nor did it mention rising costs of production, farm-gate price, or return on capital.

“These are core issues for those in the food production sector,” she said.

“Every cent that adds to growers' costs of production means they are less likely to be able to produce the food and fibre we need into the future.”

However, shadow parliamentary secretary for agriculture Sid Sidebottom said the green paper did address producer viability, as well as outlining how current policy addressed issues including agricultural productivity, market access, and rural skills and development.

It also addressed potential changes to policy, including increasing public expenditure on rural research and development, and expanding trade opportunities with Asia.

“[The food plan] is an important step to ensure a more integrated, co-ordinated and strategic focus to food related policy along the supply chain.

Victorian Liberal MP Dan Tehan said rural producers were hurting across the country.

“All the feedback and information I am getting at the moment is that it is very hard for our farmers to make a living,” he said.

He said there were three immediate steps the government could take to address the problem: put downward pressure on the Aussie dollar, get rid of the carbon tax, and improve access to overseas markets.

“Whether we like it or not, [the carbon tax] has to go to help our farmers,” he said.

SA Liberal Rowan Ramsey said Australia has one of the lowest levels of government support for agriculture in the developed world.

He said subsidies were often hard to identify and come in various guises, including direct subsidies, tariffs, quotas and trade barriers disguised as something else.

But our biggest agricultural competitor, the United States, pumped around $20 billion a year in direct subsidies into US agriculture, plus it imposes stringent import quotas to a range of products, including beef and sugar.

Meanwhile, the European Union spends 57 billion euros a year on agriculture.

“In comparison, Australian agriculture has very little support notwithstanding the recent emergency exceptional circumstances arrangements during the drought,” he said.

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READER COMMENTS

Archibald
4/12/2012 8:21:21 AM

Step 4,5,6etc Government and bureaucrats stop regulating and legislating agriculture, deregulate the redmeat industry fiasco, give livestock producers a democratic control of their segment, let free enterprise return instead of government control. The liberals should not forget they have a lot to answer for including the locking up of vegetation to achieve green house gas targets, while they stole this carbon from the farmers for zero. Agricultural production has been flat since this Liberal treachery.
Hilda Hereford
4/12/2012 8:52:36 AM

Yes, the nationals (part of the coalition) constructed the highly regulated and controlled red meat industry (1997) that has resulted in stagnant livestock prices and poor returns, with many farmers at this point on the verge of bankruptcy. So its the poor policy from the coalition that is the major cause of grief here, not just the incumbent government. looks like blank voting papers next election is the best course of action!! The coalation can't blame others for the demise, they had the biggest hand in it.
Percy
4/12/2012 9:18:20 AM

Farm viability has decreased even though productivity has increased by huge amounts. Farmers are being used as a sponge to take the brunt of keeping food price rises to a minimum just to keep inflation rates low. Monopolistic buying power and cheap lower standard grown imports keep local prices well and truly in check which is the ultimate aim of any government. Farmers need to wake up and become more pro-active in demanding less red tape, a leveller playing field and the same healthy standards required for imports as we meet for our exported produce.
genazzano
4/12/2012 10:09:54 AM

Until ALL AUSTRALIANS reralise that there is no such thing as CHEAP FOOD then farmers will suffer - I have herd Tayna Plibersek on Q & A saying something along these lines " all Australians should have access to cheap food " It just shows how they do not live in the REAL WORLD but the Canberra Glass Bubble
Ian Mott
4/12/2012 1:19:47 PM

Step 1. Give every family farm that has not employed any non-family member, full time, for more than the past 5 years, the right to employ a low wage guest worker for a two year contract. At the same $5/hour that the Israelis pay their Thai workers, and the Italians pay their North Africans, almost all serious family farms in Australia can viably compete in all global markets. At $5/hour we can go back to selective ringbarking of regrowth so none of it will ever show up in the satellite data. At $5/hour extra fences will allow proper cell grazing to protect the landscape.
Inverell
5/12/2012 9:30:55 AM

Don't forget the single desk! The profit destroying interference continues, more red tape, more rules and regulations. The Nationals are the worst, they pretend to care but when push comes to shove they are a timid mice and go and hide in the corner. Example at present is the destruction of the NSW DPI, they have done nothing and said nothing. Look at wind power stations destroying rural communities and our land values, the Nationals have done nothing. The Libs don't approve these stations in city areas, they take advantage of country people with Nationals blessing. That's true treachery!!

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Jeffito, no confusion here, just wondering why the studies have not been done and why the
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must be the leftover product from the cars we're no longer building, Newbroom.......