Without the PM's help, many farmers won't go the distance

Without the PM's help, many farmers won't go the distance

Opinion
Mal Peters says breeding herds are being decimated because of the longevity of the currrent drought.

Mal Peters says breeding herds are being decimated because of the longevity of the currrent drought.

Aa

We prepare for droughts as it is part of our business but we cannot prepare for an event so catastrophic it has no precedent.

Aa

Dear Prime Minister Morrison,

My fellow farmers are hurting and require your urgent attention to help us get through the worst drought in our known history.

Our breeding herds are being decimated because of the longevity of this drought and we are running out of funds to keep base breeding herds going.

You said following your election this would be your top priority but so far farmers have received little direct help.

Your strategy of having a budget surplus is laudable, but when major economic and social threats like the worst ever droughts occur it requires real action.

Perhaps former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser could give you a way forward; he provided 50 per cent stock feed assistance in 1980 to farmers.

We also need to keep our employees going as well as pay our council rates.

When the drought breaks farmers will need help to sow crops and purchase livestock.

This drought and variable commodity prices make farming a challenging business for family farmers and with the loss of 50pc of farmers since 1973 and the alarming increase of foreign owned agriculture land in conjunction with major corporate buyouts, we need a tool to allow us to compete.

Your government should facilitate a 30 year overseas bond.

The current interest rate is 0.5pc so with a management fee farmers would be able to borrow at under 1pc to allow the smoothing out of the bumps inevitable in farming. It is a long-term game.

As you often say, we are 12pc of gross domestic product and a major contributor to export income so we carry our weight and manage normal droughts in our stride, however, this one is worse than anything ever experienced.

Australia now imports the majority of our fish, we no longer make cars in Australia and we import most consumer goods - surely a vibrant healthy rural sector is important to your government.

Of equal importance, we are the lifeblood of many rural communities and I fear if we are not assisted the frightening impact on those communities will be ongoing for many years to come, in fact, some communities may not survive.

It is important to remember these towns were founded to service farmers - if there are no farmers there is no town.

Assistance for farmers now will help them get back into production quickly following rain and start spending in communities.

I note your assistance to communities is appreciated, however, if farmers cannot quickly return to production and start spending, then the government will be unable to permanently plug the hole.

Prime Minister Morrison much of northern NSW and southern Queensland are experiencing an event like no other.

We prepare for droughts as it is part of our business but we cannot prepare for an event so catastrophic it has no precedent.

Good strong farm business is under a great deal of pressure and I fear without your help many may not make the distance.

Aa

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