Agricultural policy needs a shakeup

Opinion: Drought and bushfires must force change to agricultural policy

John Carter agrees with Gina Rinehart's opinion that Canberra's public servants have become "excluded from productive Australia".

John Carter agrees with Gina Rinehart's opinion that Canberra's public servants have become "excluded from productive Australia".


Drought and bushfires must force change to agricultural policy.


Gina Rinehart (The Land, January 16) is quoted as saying that second and third generation public servants in Canberra have never worked in the industry.

She says that they think alike due to their common schooling and holiday retreats, and have become "excluded from productive Australia".

Rinehart is rightly worried about moves to build an even bigger meat bureaucracy.

She finished with: "Frankly, the less that goes to such levies, the better".

I couldn't agree more.

In 2002, at Townsville after hundreds of phone calls, we (Australian Beef Association and the Lot Feeders Association) blocked a big levy rise, but since then RMAC has pushed the levy higher.

Rural sector CEOs in Canberra have lost touch with reality.

They have opposed any European, Chinese or US type subsidy for Australian farmers since the NFF formation in 1978.

Yet, they themselves get indexed salaries and superannuation.

NFF projects $100 billion from Agriculture by 2030 and RMAC's 2030 Red Meat Plan anticipates twice current meat returns!

What planet are they on?

The few who have read the various Meat Industry Strategic Plans over the years know how far short they all have fallen.

Without ownership of the product or regulatory power, plans are meaningless.

Rural and regional Australia is in recession/depression through declining returns, drought, and now bushfire.

The food and fibre section of our economy is going backwards and Australians now buy more food from Europe's subsidised farmers than our unsubsidised farmers send to Europe.

The "food bowl of Asia" talk illustrated how far from reality Canberra is.

Let's look at money - the easiest item for a government to supply if it wants to stop the decline in the regions.

Where is our government spending?

Compare $2 billion over future years for drought recovery (in difficult to obtain loans) to $1.6 billion annual subsidies to foreign owned wind farms, or the insane $50 billion for already obsolete submarines.

With a computer keyboard, a reserve bank can create domestic credit overnight.

US Federal Reserve is currently creating over $60 billion each month.

This has kept the stock market rising.

If it can be done for the finance sector it can be done for the food producing regions.

Let's start with an uncomplicated $50,000 annually to every Australian farmer- a paltry $5 billion odd in the $200 billion spent on social security and welfare.

Call it an environmental payment to all farmers reliant on agricultural income.

Call it sustainability, decentralisation, weed control or carbon sequestration (I read of government paying Macquarie Bank's Paraway Pastoral Co. $100 million under that heading - the same figure as that to be divided by all of Australia's farmers affected by bushfire).

It is a time for some new thinking if Australians want to retain a rural sector.


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