Farmers work on their own MPCI scheme

30 Sep, 2010 09:28 AM
Hollands Rock farmer Noel Bairstow outlines his MPCI proposal to the meeting.
Hollands Rock farmer Noel Bairstow outlines his MPCI proposal to the meeting.

HOLLANDS Rock farmer Noel Bairstow is part of a group of farmers and former farmers that have been working together behind the scenes during the past couple of years to develop a risk management crop insurance scheme.

Mr Bairstow spoke about the proposed scheme at last week's meeting in Kulin.

He said a risk management crop insurance scheme was critical to the future of farming and that it needed to be put in place as soon as possible and well before finishing this year's harvest.

His group has the support of South West Region MLC Nigel Hallett who is one of the main drivers of the proposal.

They are tabling their proposed model for Mr Redman to consider this week. It uses a combination of government and private investment involvement and needs the minister's approval to continue.

Mr Bairstow and his group started developing the risk management scheme two years ago when frost hit the area hard and hurt the bottom line of many farms and associated rural businesses.

He said the ground work had already been done and it was "all up and ready to go".

The scheme covers losses from hail, fire, drought, frosts and crop disease.

Mr Bairstow said a commercial company called Marsh was backing the scheme's possible introduction.

"It's a reputable one and a big one," Mr Bairstow said.

"The model is going to be based on a South African and Canadian model where they have had Multi_Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) for a number of years.

"Let's get on a level playing field with these guys and make it happen quickly.

"Things in the last two seasons have got out of hand mainly because our inputs have been astronomical.

"Fertiliser and chemical companies have jumped on the band wagon, not so much this year but last year.

"Our income has come out well below par and this year we all know what's happened.

"We are the best farmers in the world and a lot of our crops have been set up on four inches of rainfall.

"Six to eight weeks ago they looked magnificent but now they have deteriorated.

"We have to get this up, Terry.

"We need it because we can't put next year's crop in without seeing some sort of support and we can't risk it all again - we've had two bad ones."

Other farmers spoke at the meeting and came out strongly in favour of a MPCI.

But frustration was also expressed about delaying its introduction.

Former WAFarmers grains council president Derek Clauson said that the farm lobby group had been pursuing MPCI for some time without success.

He said MPCI was a subject that didn't seem to have been taken forward to the extent that it should.

Mr Clauson also told Mr Redman he found the term moral hazard "really offensive".

"To me, when you talk about moral hazard, it's as if you have said to the researchers in your department, go out and find me some reason why we can't do this instead of go and find a way of doing this," Mr Clauson said.

"I don't believe moral hazard in a true business sense has any perspective when it comes to this argument.

"I also believe if we had an insurance policy that would reimburse us the cost of production on an annual basis, it would be recognising of the fact we are not trying to run the business against the normal human competitor.

"We are trying to run a business against nature and by the very nature of agriculture in WA we get one chance a year not two chances a year like the Eastern States."

Brendan Savage, Kulin, said he was fed up with all the talk about MPCI with no result after more than a decade of Bob Iffla pushing the government for its introduction.

"We are sick of talking about it," Mr Savage said.

"What I'd like to see is a time-frame.

"If it's commercial or if it's the government we'd like to see a time frame.

"We are sick of this wait, wait, wait, the years keep ticking by and your names come and go and Bob (Iffla) gets older."

Jane Mouritz from Hyden said a long-term international trend reassured her that food was going to be a valuable commodity again.

"If we get through this we will make money in good times," Ms Mouritz said.



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