Get the blinkers off on drought relief

The Federal Government's $714 million drought package provoked predictable howls of indignation from Adam Smith's undead army of economic rationalists.

"Why the special treatment for farmers?" they cried, "Stop encouraging uncompetitive businesses!" - revealing a gross lack of understanding of the issue at hand.

Firstly - there were questions as to why farmers should be 'propped up', while other struggling businesses weren't afforded similar relief. There were claims that drought support represented preferential treatment for a sector that holds sentimental attachment for many Australians and that differential treatment was unfair.

The thing is - agriculture IS different to the other businesses. In case of other sectors, a struggling business is a struggling business and the fundamentals are unlikely to be turned around quickly.

In farming, it's a different story. A succcessful, viable business (let's not forget that prior to receiving exceptional circumstance funding, all farm businesses have to undergo a viability test) can be crippled by climatic vagaries.

Equally - the same business will bounce back hard should there be improved conditions.

Yes - farmers in some of the marginal dryland areas may have to closely consider their future, but surely nursing healthy, viable businesses that provide both employment and tax revenue 90 percent of the time is a sound decision for the government.

Then there's the food price issue. Many urban consumers are quick to sneer at the 'whinging farmer' always on the lookout for a handout, yet on the other hand, should a loaf of bread rise by 20 cents due to higher wheat prices, they're the first call for something to be done.

You can't have it both ways guys - keeping food prices down requires an Australian agricultural sector and nursing sustainable farms through this tough time is a move that will see the government recoup its investment many times over.

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READER COMMENTS

Nav
1/10/2007 6:20:51 PM

Guess this is indicative of what we can expect from a Labor govt. Let's also remember that NSW health is also an example of a Labor govt.
jenny
1/10/2007 7:39:01 PM

Emotion and identity?? Surely the principal reason behind helping farmers is to ensure the quality, integrity and supply of sufficient, sustainably produced food to feed our nation today and in the future.
Clark Goodwin
1/10/2007 8:30:53 PM

The only thing to be said in relation to this deplorable act of abandonment of its NSW constituents - what else did we expect from a mottled crew of rats! They cannot run a chook raffle let along the State's very basic services, health, transport, water & electricity which all spring to mind. The State Government's 20% contribution to rural counselling and commitment is too intellectually challenging to this muster of buffoons and clowns. Never forget they were recently re-elected, so the use of the plebiscite may have to be dusted off and exercised to bring about a new State election - soon! This abandonment of rural counselling is a precurser to these rats practicing jumping ship before it goes down - further!
Neil Inall
5/10/2007 3:57:10 PM

The Nffs new drought preparation plan has much going for it ... a fresh approach at last. But I would like to know more about the criteria test. Neil Inall
Bas
9/10/2007 6:42:32 PM

Dam Covers - Reducing evaporation is clearly one way to save water, but better reporting and a little science would help producers to accurately evaluate if there is an economic benefit. For example if the floating cover in the article "Dam cover saves valuable water for Qld avocados", Australia, Monday, 8 October 2007, has been tested by USQ and shown to reduce evaporation by 90% where does the 95% reduction for claimed this dam come from when only a part of the surface area of this dam is covered. Comment is also made in this article that as the temperature rises so does evaporation. This is clearly false as any review of scientific literature would show. In fact on a windy winters day evaporation can be substantially higher than on a still summers day! Evaporation is driven by air movement (wind), air temperature and humidity and water temperature. Unfortunately no comment is made relating to dam lining while dam seepage losses are typically equal to or greater than evaporative losses. A recent scientific report by CSIRO on reducing evaporative losses from four dams in Victoria is reported by water week at http://waterweek.wordpress.com/ca tegory/algae/ is worth reading, as is a summary report for DNRM offering a comparison of various types of dam covers at http://www.nrw.qld.gov.au/complia nce/wic/pdf/reports/urban_waterus e/evapinstorages.pdf
Billy
9/10/2007 7:34:37 PM

For the hundreds of 'families' that have lost a loved-one, neighbour, or friend, I believe that some of the above comments are "shockingly disturbing". These 'Farming Families', having worked from daylight to dark, then knock off, only to return home that is situated on their "workplace", is depressing enough, but to then turn on the TV and hear what other ill informed peoples views are, just compounds the feeling of "what are we doing battling out here on our own?". They need all the support Governments like Howard's can offer.
Helen Wallace
9/10/2007 8:43:30 PM

We could produce all the milk we need if the farmers were paid what it's worth. Do we want cheap food? Well, buy someone else's contaminated rubbish. Do we want quality locally produced food that doesn't build greenhouse gases in getting to us? Then we must pay more for it so that the producers can make a decent living. If we don't then soon there'll be no food.
mtsinaiolives
9/10/2007 10:22:07 PM

Maybe woolworths CEO lives in a different part of the world than Australian Farmers. It seems we are going broke whilst the retailers are making bigger profits than ever selling our produce. Woolworths sell legs of lamb for more than the producer gets for a whole animal?
slamina
16/10/2007 11:00:56 PM

To the cow-painter: For God's sake don't these animals suffer enough already without you making them look ridiculous too? All sentient beings should be accorded a level of dignity or is that beyond your imagination. One is compelled to ask: is there no end to the mindless pursuits of the inhumane being?
cow cocky
19/10/2007 5:29:23 PM

In regard to putting together a inventory of available fodder and grain. This would be typical of all these so-called farm leaders and advisers, to put it all up on a big blackboard and just waste time and money. Find a way for the farmer to access more cheap money and he will soon find the fodder.
Grain of TruthRural Press grains writer Gregor Heard on the big issues facing the broadacre farmers today.

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