“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

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Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett.MP.

Photo Fairfax Media.

“Maybe stop talking about issues like daylight saving and the like and concentrate on real farm issues,”

“That would help government produce real results for the farm sector.”

“Maybe one farm organisation would help.”

Colin Barnett. Premier of Western Australia April 2013

Dale Park, President of the Western Australian Farmer’s Federation (WAFF or WA Farmers) replied:

 I think that is true, there is a lot of people out there who just see this fighting between WA Farmers and the PGA as totally counterproductive,” he said.

And I am one of them.”

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) president at the time, Rob Gillam said he was surprised by the Premier’s comments. (Tony Seabrook is now President of the PGA.)

“It was a bit unusual, but I am not sure why he went where he went to be honest,” Mr Gillam said.

“We (PGA) were pretty happy with the achievements in agriculture by the Barnett-led government in the first term and we are looking forward to the changes in the second term.

“There are a couple of areas in which we are not happy, but that’s life.”

Mr Gillam said he saw PGA and WA Farmers in a similar light to the Liberal-National parties in State Government, but stopped short of calling it an alliance.

Mr Park also said he was surprised by Mr Barnett’s lack of understanding of the issues farmers were facing in the Eastern Wheatbelt during his two-day trip last week.

Everybody knows the problems – getting finance, the high dollar and the cost-price squeeze – but what we are really short on is solutions,” Mr Park said.

But what surprises me is that he (Barnett) was unaware of that (of the issues facing farmers).

When asked if it was a blight on former Agriculture and Food Minister Terry Redman for not keeping the Premier properly informed on the issues, Mr Park said it was.

“Every time we tried to talk to Mr Redman about this he would say you are talking the industry down,” Mr Park said.

For the full story and even ‘more’ comments from the Premier go to

http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/agribusiness/general-news/barnett-calls-for-united-farmer-voice/2653829.aspx?storypage=0

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Dale Park. President of Western Australian Farmers. Photo: Fairfax media.

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Tony Seabrook. President of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association. photo:Fairfax Media.

 

 

1920s Poster in England

 The mighty who operate with total impunity – a law unto themselves.

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Would Mr Barnett have been as blunt in public to  Richard Goyder, Wesgarmers CEO and Ian McLeod CEO of Coles about the anguish they have caused in the dairy industry with their dollar a litre take it or leave it bludgeoning? No, he wouldn’t dare.  But he gets away with arrogance, rudeness and denigration in public to farmer organisations because he knows he can.

Colin Barnett was sending a big message to the PGA and WA Farmers in being so sarcastic, of concern is judging by the reaction there was no one at home in either WA Farmers or  the PGA listening or if there was they didn’t understand. We all know Barnett’s sarcasm about the curtains fading is to do with the claims that milk production would go down and the kids wouldn’t go to sleep all as the result of daylight saving.

If that is the best the Premier can do when talking agriculture, his memory is convenient and  it brings into sharp focus the lack of real communication between the Premier and the leaders of the PGA and WA Farmers.

Dale Parke’s comment also tells a sad tale of the poor working relationship between himself and the Minister for agriculture at the time, Terry Redman.  Mr Redman obviously had his own agenda and attached no importance to the views of the President of WA Farmers.

There are some really difficult challenges around agriculture at the moment, of immediate concern and not the least being the diabolical condition of our country infrastructure, road and rail. So it was a typical Barnett ‘country hick’ comment designed to denigrate and take our mind off other matters.

An old and effective trick to use a bit of personal denigration in a not too subtle way to change the debate. Twelve months later the road and rail debate has gone nowhere. Probably deteriorated as the Shires have run out of money to maintain roads to carry trucks with payloads far beyond the design criteria of what in many cases are gravel roads built 50 to 100 hundred years ago.

for the full story go to: http://www.brokenpromises.org.au/promises/closure-of-tier-3-rail-lines

Trouble was the Premiers sarcasm and comments were like water off a ducks back. Dale Park as good as agreed and said he couldn’t get through to his Minister Terry Redman when he needed to and Rob Gillam dismissed the Premier with a metaphorical dismissive wave of the hand.

Dale Park, when he refers to what he sees as a lack of understanding by the Premier of the problems of the eastern wheatbelt as they were so graphically portrayed at what I call ‘The Meeting of a Thousand Souls’ that was held in Merriden over twelve months ago, should remind the Premier that at that time, shortly after the meeting and without his Minister for Agriculture, Mr Barnett gave what I took to be a commitment that he personally would better educate himself with regard to not only the problems of the eastern wheatbelt but of all agricultural regions.  He gave the impression he understood the debt and the problems it was causing to the community from farmers to the  business people and to the working families.

He also gave the distinct impression he would take a personal interest in the situation. Ken Baston,  the new Liberal Minister for Agriculture visited another part of the wheatbelt and virtually repeated the Premier’s commitments.

The financial aid that was promised at that time has just become available. It beggars belief that it has taken so long for the Commonwealth and the State to sort the scheme out. Best part of 18 months to develop the terms and conditions. Then again it is not surprising because Machiavelli is alive and well in the halls of power. I gather there has only been one successful applicant. Was it planned that way? Between the Department of Agriculture economists and the consultancy groups they seem to work so closely with now, it would be difficult, given the number of applications approved, to believe the conditions were drawn up to help as many as possible.

It is a sad reflection on the Minister and the bureaucracy, presumably the Dept of Agriculture and Food, if the conditions of the financing are not designed to help those most in need.

Rumours abound that both the PGA and WA Farmers have seen better financial times. Membership is low. Patronage and sponsorship is becoming more difficult.

The stories of orange lifeboats moving around Perth water  in the middle of the night have not been confirmed by either organisation. Neither have the rumors been confirmed that offers have been made on two substantial houseboats.

It’s time for Change

Now is the right time for a change? It’s time both the P&G and WA Farmers, with their heads held high for they have toiled for agriculture and done a job few of us would take on, to give the job away.

It is time for them to take the same advice that Cromwell gave to the Rump government. ‘In the name of God go!’ and then we should add the words ‘And thank you for all you have done over the years.

Why? Because  it’s long past time agriculture was again respected  by our leaders and by the community.

If agriculture is to be respected again by politicians and most bureaucrats, many who have never witnessed an agriculture with a vibrant and politically powerful advocacy,  and there are many of them, then we need to change.

We need to decide what place we want for agriculture in the future of this country. To achieve that, we will also need to communicate with the general public so they know what is happening outside of their sterile and cloistered urban world. Agriculture’s Terms of Trade in growing food for home consumption and the profit of Woolworths and Coles is always a good party starter. Down, down,down.

In that regard:

We need to decide whether as growers we are going to be a the beck and call of two food retailers who control an unbelievable 80% of the retail market.  We need to decide whether we will allow State and Federal Governments to  take agriculture for granted or whether, for the first time in a long time, we are going to take control of our own destiny.

We cannot do that at present. The majority of farmers, their working families, sons ,daughters and so on,  and everyone else within the agricultural industry who are eligible to join their State Farming Organisation (SFO) and by doing so gain a voice, have, by and large and for whatever reason,  chosen not to join. Including me, I left after a few years of listening to a lot of self serving nonsense from ‘Peak Body’ committee members.

Why this has happened? Some may think it would need expensive and sophisticated attitudinal research to find the answer. I don’t think it would. We forget our history and there are lessons to be learned.  In 1913/14 in Western Australia, the Farmers and Settlers Association in conjunction with the Producers Union, formed Westralian Farmers Cooperative later to become Wesfarmers. Paid up capital was less than £4000.

To gain political representation the newly formed Westralian Farmers Cooperative formed the Country Party. Farmers and station people realised they needed a political voice if they were to have any real power and influence the running of the country.  After WWI, what with the loss if men, weakened by drought and then the Great Depression the need for Wesfarmers and their political wing, Country Party, grew.  A strong cooperative and a rural political party was a powerful combination.

Farmers representing farmers and using the strength of what was in effect their own political party, were able to influence governments. In the 1922 General Election the Country Party had become strong enough to deny the Nationalists government in their own right and so the first coalition was formed. The Country Party under Earle Paige struck a hard bargain and insisted on five seats in a Cabinet of 11 including Treasury. That is how agriculture became the political giant it was and if we think about it still is, or could be, but it’s become a recluse and devoid of leadership.

Now in the 21st century, with our mobile phones, skype and all kinds of communication paraphernalia including television with all its additional sophistication , all of which one could argue has brought us closer together, yet, at the same time, it has been a major reason why we have drifted apart. We don’t ‘need’ to go out at night anymore. We don’t need meetings anymore. We skype, we email and we text our way through life.

Yet there is, for me at least, an unexplainable paradox. Agriculture has more national  ‘committees’ than Parliament. These committees are called  councils and assume the role of and call themselves the ‘Peak’ bodies for their particular section of agriculture. So we have the ‘Sheep Council’ and the ‘Cattle Council’ et cetera. All who are members of these Peak Bodies take it upon themselves or are asked by government to speak on behalf of the sheep industry or the cattle industry, on behalf of agriculture.

I know you know all this, I just want to reinforce how ludicrous and undemocratic it all is, because the members of these committees, these ‘Peak Bodies’ come from the ranks of the NFF who in turn come from the SFOs, who because of their low membership across Australia, do not, cannot claim to be representative of the farmers and pastoralists of Australia, yet they speak for them and presumably have some influence on government policy.

So the minority speak for the majority. The minority view becomes the majority view. That’s the agricultural democracy we have brought down upon ourselves. Then when the majority hears about it and rebel, or worse shrug and do nothing but whinge in the press the government is left with nowhere to go and adopt the position ‘well if they don’t know what they want I’ll make the decision’. That has given the Minister and the Governments around Australia a license to be autocratic, to ignore everyone and do as they please—just like Barnett and for that matter, Ludwig.

Judging by the paucity major decisions made by governments of all persuasions over the last forty or fifty years, which have benefited agriculture, it is quite evident that the  Liberals, Labor and Nationals all realise that it isn’t the country vote that will get them into or keep them in power. What we in agriculture have forgotten is that numbers don’t matter, it is power that matters and what we have given up as an industry, is power.

With the exception of a few ‘wild men’ like Bob Katter, who leaves everyone in no doubt where his heart lies, those in politics, particularly  those who are members of what started as the Country Party and is now the Nationals, who have claimed and do claim to support agriculture, have been shown to be traitors to their cause. They have without doubt shown they are more interested in being ‘part’ of the ruling mega corporation of political power, than standing up for what was but they no longer see it as being what could be their equally powerful rural and agricultural constituency.

If they were true to their constituency and to their proud heritage, the Nationals would be on the cross benches helping the government understand droughts and debts and terms of trade and how the loss of a processing industry is slowly throttling parts of agriculture. They might even be able to reflect agriculture’s view on foreign investment. They might even be able to tell the government how important a profitable agriculture is to Australia.

It might even be able to convince the government that everything grown and either consumed or exported would be positive to our balance of payments, and help with this manic and unnecessary drive for a surplus. They were going to do it for Holden and Ford, but then we aren’t Bathurst.

Over the last couple of decades the number of farmers has nearly halved, there is an ongoing debate about the average age of farmers, I claim that age, old age, is a major reason for the low numbers, it gets harder the older you get to go to meetings  at night and drive home watching for those 60kg  grass hoppers.

But then others, one lady quite aggressively the other night, disagreed with me and maintained the published average age of farmers was a statistical glitch, her contention was that the wrong people fill in the forms, so the old man puts himself down as the manager, when in fact there are heaps of young men and women in agriculture and managing farms. If they are correct, then for whatever reason, and we need to find out, why the ‘young people’, over the years, have shown, ever increasingly that they too have no interest being a member of a State Farming Organisation.

I don’t know who is right. ABARE say the average age for the eastern wheatbelt in WA is 63, and it certainly looked like it Merriden at the ‘Meeting of a Thousand Souls’ last year.

If Joe Ludwig did nothing else he proved:

Australian Agriculture does not have an effective advocacy and representative organisation.

Wikipedia defines advocacy as:

Advocacy groups (also known as pressure groups, lobby groups, campaign groups, interest groups, or special interest groups) use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems. Groups vary considerably in size, influence, and motive; some have wide ranging long term social purposes, others are focused and are a response to an immediate issue or concern.

Motives for action may be based on a shared political, religious, moral, or commercial position. Groups use varied methods to try to achieve their aims including lobbying, media campaigns, publicity stunts, polls, research, and policy briefings. Some groups are supported by powerful business or political interests and exert considerable influence on the political process, others have few such resources.

Some have developed into important social, political institutions or social movements. Some powerful lobby groups have been accused of manipulating the democratic system for narrow commercial gain[1] and in some instances have been found guilty of corruption, fraud, bribery, and other serious crimes;[2] lobbying has become increasingly regulated as a result. Some groups, generally ones with less financial resources, may use direct action and civil disobedience and in some cases are accused of being a threat to the social order or ‘domestic extremists’.[3] Research is beginning to explore how advocacy groups use social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advocacy_group

Does agriculture need an advocacy organisation?

In my view without an aggressive advocacy we might as well give up, roll over, keep on paying our levies and taxes to the MLA, GRDC, Wool Council and the like and continue to let governments of all persuasions and pressure groups like PETA and the RSPCA, anti farming groups from the anti GM lobby to the hairy shirt placard carrying rent -a-crowd mob that turn up everywhere, just let them get on with whatever they want to do with us and to us and we will give in without a murmur.

We either do that or  throw down the gauntlet to the young and the old in farming, to the agricultural industry, as broad as it can be made, from farming to speculative agricultural science and everything in between, to see how many  want to be a member of an agricultural advocacy group that can knock on the door of the Premier or the Prime Minister and expect them to open it themselves. To show some respect to the mighty second biggest industry, the agricultural industry of this country

Why should agriculture be respected?

Now we are number 2. Becoming number 1 was easy.

Why should agriculture be respected? The main reason is that it grows the food we eat, without which we cannot do! That’ll do for a start!

Since about 1850 and apart from a few years when gold went mad, agriculture was the number one industry both in Western Australia and in Australia. Agriculture not only had its feet under the table, it owned the damned table.

Agriculture was strong and proud and if we are honest it was more than just riding on the sheep’s back that built this country.  It was Australia’s agriculture, which provided the was nucleus from which Australia grew. Primary produce was virtually all Australia had with which to trade with the rest of the world.

So if agriculture needed money for research and development it got it. As a result our research establishments were among the best in the world. They helped farmers conquer new frontiers, frontiers that had never been experienced anywhere in the world. When farmers spoke, governments took notice. The record of Australia’s inventiveness and innovation in agriculture is endless and envied by many.

In 1990 agriculture was Australia’s biggest export industry. We didn’t help ourselves with the wool reserve price scheme crash, but iron ore had already started to march and for politicians, especially political accountants it’s easier to understand than agriculture. Being an iron ore miner,  digging it up, crushing it, putting it on a big boat sending it to Japan and China and getting paid a royalty on every tonne is  an easy and simple concept for the political mind to understand.

Politicians thought they were clever when they imposed royalties. There is now ample evidence, certainly in Western Australia that royalties have done little for the whole community and any benefits from the past and those budgeted for in the future can be difficult to identify outside of the metropolitan area. Plenty of Freeways in Perth and a rail system, a new $1 billion stadium and a foreshore makeover for another billion, but not much if anything east of the Darling Scarp. I think Mr Barnett now realises that and there is little he can do because he has spent the money.

Since Sir David Brand, who was also a farmer, I don’t believe we have had a Premier or Prime Minister (including Fraser) that either knew anything about agriculture or wanted to know anything it, so they left it to the Nationals who always (until recently) provided the Minister for Agriculture. So if the Premier of Western Australia knows little or nothing about agriculture, that is because his Minister’s for Agriculture, all from the National Party, except the current one, have failed to bring to the attention of Cabinet and more importantly the Premier the true situation on the land. The ‘Meeting of a Thousand Souls’  and Dale Park’s comments were testament to that.

The squeaky wheels got the oil. While Perth has forged ahead into a fine city, except they can’t control traffic, the country, at least until Grills came along with Royalties for Regions, was a forgotten wasteland. Royalties for Regions might, just might,have stopped rural depopulation but it hasn’t built what we need, roads and railways and an infrastructure to take us into the 21st century.

No one would think it the way we behave that agriculture is the second biggest export industry in the country. An industry that should have enormous power in the management of the economy, yet I get the feeling so often, particularly here in WA, that we are taken for granted. So long as the meat is in the fridge and the milk in the rack and the imported bread is on the shelf, and Coles and Woolworths remain open, all is well.

There is no effective political or agripolitical advocacy for agriculture in this state or in this country.

We can forget about the National Farmers Federation (NFF) because they are no more represent the average farmer than I represent the equator. My personal observation is that the majority of farmers know little and care even less for the NFF. I suspect their position has deteriorated at the same rate as farmer’s Terms of Trade.

Other organisations like the GRDC, MLA and Wool Council that win the lottery every week from levies and deductions and are very rich, are now being interrogated. That’s where the money is and it’s all derived from deductions from produce. It’s spent on those who provide the funds we are told. Yet our terms of trade are lousy and more disturbingly our wheat yields look like they are declining as the rest of the world continues to increase. So are we getting value for money?

We don’t realise our own strengths and we certainly don’t play to them as an export industry, constantly reminding the country we do other things apart from export live animals.  The pages of the rural press are filled with countries like China, suddenly it seems, realising that they will want food in the future, particularly meat. If there is one thing we can do with our vast range lands it is produce meat.

WA is ‘the’ grain exporter for the country and about the 12th biggest grain trader in the world. How many people know that and what it means to the country when we have a drought? No one because no one tells them.

Our meat trade is the diplomatic cement in the building blocks between ourselves and so many other countries.  Live cattle to Indonesia has brought the countries together again and the Indonesians have now realised that it will be decades before they will be able to feed themselves from their own herd, so they need cattle from WA and the NT.

We saw how quickly the GFC happened, but in the future when the iron ore is gone or it’s not worth mining, there will still be cattle on the ranges and sheep somewhere. As I write there is talk of iron ore mines closing down because the price of ore has fallen below their cost of production.

I wrote ‘there will still be cattle on the ranges and sheep somewhere. — I should have added, that is unless in the mean time we have treated the cattle and sheep country like a mine and sold it off.

Look what happened to Nickel, tell me the experts saw that coming. Iron ore next month, next year, now?image003

Graph: M Vincent and Assoc.

The one thing that will not change is the land. It will still be there. Whether it is farmed or has been turned over to be one big National Park, with the people employed to keep it tidy, depends on our advocacy for agriculture’s true place today, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, not when you have time, but now, here today.

Are you listening Barnaby, Ken Baston and all the other ministers for agriculture around the country?

We never again want to suffer, we never again will suffer, the ignominy of being treated like we were by Senator Joe  Ludwig. Next time we will have the balls to say no. Won’t matter what the politicians say.

We currently have an industry and State and Federal governments that cannot demonstrate that any of them have any capacity for strategic planning on the future of agriculture in this country. Who needs a White Paper? It’s a time waster. The recent announcement by Minister Barnaby Joyce just adds  more confusion to what is already a developing into a screenplay written for Sir Humphrey and ‘Yes Prime Minister’. Looks like another recipe for an excuse to do nothing. Back in the too hard basket. See: http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/barnaby-joyces-agricultural-white-paper-unlikely-by-years-end/story-fnkerdda-1227075039334

Delay likely: Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he’ll leave his green paper release

Delay likely: Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says he’ll leave his green paper release date “in the hands off my colleagues”. Photo: Wang Jianxin.

Agriculture, from Canberra down, is reactive rather than constructive. It is obsessed with surplus budgeting. In agriculture it has been shown for decades that there is a direct correlation between expenditure on R & D and productivity. That’s what made us one of the most productive dry land agricultural systems in the world and the envy of many. Money gave us some of the best researchers in the world. The reduction can only mean that both State and Federal governments have no interest in increasing agricultural productivity. Who ever said Australia could be a ‘Food Bowl for Asia’? Enough of this nonsense.

Does the second biggest industry in the country have a business plan not for next year but for the next decade and beyond? NO. It is not possible while those who have become our masters, prevaricate, confuse, bluster and give the impression they too are uncertain of the future and are frightened to talk about farm income and profit.

Even if none of the above happens, one thing is for certain, I get the distinct impression that the second biggest industry in the county, agriculture, not only doesn’t own the table any more it doesn’t have a chair to sit on except the one that is in the corner facing the wall.

Council of Agriculture.

We need a new organisation, let us call it the Council of Agriculture.

Let us bring together the best brains both inside and outside of agriculture together in one place and put some structure into this huge and diverse industry. Let us develop a strategy for agriculture that shows what we are going to do in the future rather than do what we are doing at the moment and that is hanging around to and wait and see what the future does to us.

Let us do the thinking and develop a Strategic Plan and then let us develop, dare I say it, a Business Plan. The Strategic Plan and the Business Plan to be working living documents, not files that will lie in a corner and gather dust once they have been written. If BHP or Rio Tinto can develop plans for the future, then so can we. The distinct advantage we have is that as far as food growing is concerned, the view is held at present that there will be a market for that food. Our future is assured. Or at least food growing is assured, whether we do it is up to us.

Let us qualify what is seen as that potential, not as price takers but as price setters.  What are our markets, are they the emerging and enormous and we are told prosperous like the new middle class in China, Indonesia and India, or where?

Let us decide as an industry, through our own Council what our attitudes are to foreign investment. Let us not leave it just to the governments or even worse the banks who would sell their soul for a dollar.

Let us get the banks in a room and determine if they are going to continue to support the second biggest industry in the country or, as it seems at the moment, they are going to encourage foreign investment.

You may think it would just be a talkfest, well don’t we need to answer the following?:

  • Under what conditions will foreign investment operate. Can they import all their inputs? Export all their produce and will they pay tax?
  • If China and the world wants sheep meat and lambs again it’s going to cost the producer to change and they will need to be financed, how will we do that? Are the banks, with the current debt structure of many, willing to finance change to stock in the same way as they financed the change to cropping?
  • Food security is on everyone’s lips particularly in other countries, can we reach arrangements to produce the food, sheep, goats, whatever at at an indexed price into the future? Sound a bit wild? I think there would be interest. Farmers in Western Australia are supposed to own the West Australian Meat Marketing Coop (WAMMCO) and CBH, that’s a start. If we were going to borrow money to build a block of offices then we would budget the rental value. Why then if there is going to be an ever increasing demand for or shortage of food should it be difficult to set the price for the future?  And not at a Ned Kelly Coles and Woolworths philosophy/price of a dollar a litre.
  • Can we produce the best Durum wheat in the world and put it into containers on the farm and send it direct to the manufacturer and cut out some of the horrendous costs of transport. Can we do it with other grain. Why?Supply chain costs for wheat traveling 200km from farm to port are A$60-75/tonne. As such, supply chain costs are generally the single largest cost item for a grain producer in a typical year. For the full and sobering story and the answer to so many questions www.aegic.org.au/…/140130%20Final%20AEGIC%20Supply%20Chain...
  • Put some transparency into MLA and the meat trade in this country especially beef.
  • Why do we import 80% of our processed pig meat?
  • The same with the GRDC, levies for what? Average wheat yields are going down!
  • Who will coordinate all of this? Have a look at http://www.ufcmn.com/ and get a taste of what is possible. Sure we had a coop once and look at it now. It helps to screw us instead of helping us. You may say the Americans get subsidies, so they do but so what? The coop doesn’t and the farmers own the coop. If the law needs changing in this country for cooperatives to work as we want them to then let us change the law. I think the Tax man in the USA encourages cooperatives.
  • Let the traders deal with the coop, not the individual.

I could add another hundred items to this list. Was Mallee a furphy or were we just let down after spending millions on development?

Give me one good reason why we sell all our canola as grain when Canada crushes the majority at home and exports the oil and uses the high protein meal for its own livestock and exports to the USA see http://www.canolacouncil.org/markets-stats/industry-overview/

You get the idea? We have to do it for ourselves because nobody in this ‘user pays government philosophy’ world is going to do it for us.

It’s no good waiting for Canberra, this kind of change is beyond them. Look how long it took them to put together an unworkable drought package. This sort of programme will not fall into the re-election manifesto that is probably being written right now.

It’s no good waiting for Pitt Street or whoever to do it, because if they do anything, it will be for themselves.

We have to do it ourselves, governments continue to take agriculture, currently it’s second biggest industry, for granted and let every Tom Dick and Harry from anywhere in the world come in here and do whatever they like with it, so long as it doesn’t cost the government anything. That’s the credo of we must have a surplus.

This country wasn’t built on budget surpluses and neither was Europe rebuilt after the War on surpluses. I’m old enough to have watched the UK rise from the ashes, that wasn’t done with surpluses.

Agriculture carries a big debt, the only way it will ever be repaid is to change the manner in which we trade and stop others taking the cream and leaving us with the butter milk.

Of late there has been a rush of overseas grain traders investing or wanting to invest in Australia, why is that when we only grow 5% of the world’s wheat and in any one year we can be between 12% and 15% of the grain traded in the world? You can read all of the report at http://www.aegic.org.au/media/25873/aegic_supply_chains_report_2014_v3.pdf and you will understand why. The world is not a fool, but when they know more about how to make money out of the grain that we grow, than we do – it’s time to think about change.

How will all this replace PGA and WA Farmers, SFAs and the NFF? We won’t need them. Let the States do it on their own. Form their own cooperative(s) and councils and bring it all together as one national Strategic Plan from one Council and show the Federal Government what we are going to do, not ask them, show them. If the Nationals think they have a part to play in a new Australian agriculture, let them come forward and tell us how.

If a Federal Government and State Governments presented with a plan for growth and prosperity in agriculture refuse to accept that plan. Then the agricultural community of this country will be left under no misapprehension with regard to government policy in the future, and that will put them all on a collision course with agriculture.

Who Will Pay?

There is no shortage of money. MLA. GRDC. Federal Govt, if they can spend billions on foreign aid they can afford this. Banks – Development for they would have to be part of the Council. NFF Fighting Fund. CBH are rich with shareholders capital.

Roger Crook

About 

Over the last fifty years or so Roger has worked in agriculture, since 1967 in Australia. From farm labourer, to station and farm manager, then progressively to a senior management position in agribusiness as the marketing and sales manager of what was at the time the biggest agricultural chemical company in Australia, ICI (Australia- Rural Division), Roger has both a practical farming and comprehensive agribusiness background.
After a brief spell as the marketing director of a big public relations company in Perth, Roger formed his own consultancy specialising in agribusiness communications and the marketing of Australian agricultural intellectual property overseas.
Roger says he will only ever be 'semi retired'. He believes Australian agriculture is at the crossroads so he has set up the 'Global Farmer' as a forum to both pose, debate and hopefully answer some of the challenges being faced by the Australian family farm and so by Australian agriculture.

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