One voice needed for Ag

19 Jul, 2013 02:00 AM
Senator Chris Back.
Senator Chris Back.

AUSTRALIAN agribusiness is at the crossroads as farmers battle declining terms of trade.

And according to Senator Chris Back, it is time to develop a peak body embracing all aspects of agribusiness.

Speaking at last week's Farm Machinery & Industry Association of WA (FMIA) annual general meeting, Senator Back said it was imperative the agribusiness industry went to governments with one voice.

"It's the only way you are going to get governments on-side to invest in an industry prepared to put skin into the game," he said.

"But at the moment you have this disparate voice and politicians find it easy to play off each group.

"I think it will rest with young people to knock a few of the older heads together and say, 'we've got do better and we want to speak with one voice'.

"At the moment you have the production sector, logistics, retailers and wholesalers all with different views.

"They need to come together and sort out their differences so there's a single voice that's heard by governments."

Senator Back said one of his priorities was to convince the Liberal finance committee of the need to address farm debt.

"I want to speak with our finance team and discuss creating a scenario where farmers can exit the industry with honour," he said. "And there is a need to look at removing exorbitant costs and penalties that are foisted on farmers struggling with debt.

"We need to rearrange the situation and provide relief to those who want to stay, to ensure agriculture doesn't collapse.

"It can't be a situation of going cap in hand to the taxpayer because they can't afford it.

"We have a $300 billion national debt and we're paying $1b a month on interest payments.

"So we've got to take a national look at this, because it also involves the banks.

"It's not in their interest to see sliding land values and making other farmers less viable.

"But at the end of the day the farmer has got to take some responsibility (for debt)."

Senator Back said he was interested in what he termed, Business Interruption Insurance (BII), as one form of reducing risk.

"It's a standard business practice in many countries to have BII and we have to encourage young people to look at different systems to do things differently in the future," he said.

"But we've got to do a lot more work politically so we've got a level playing field in international markets and we need to do this urgently.

"We can't keep doing what we're doing and any major restructure of agriculture must avoid the situation we are now in."

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


older farmer
19/07/2013 8:38:50 AM, on Farm Weekly

I am one of the older farmers been at it 52 years ( But have passed it on ). Have said for the last 30 yrs we need one voice to represent us. The trouble with a lot of farmers they work on the Jack system " Im okay so why worry about others" in a couple years i'ii be able to buy him out.
19/07/2013 1:33:45 PM, on Farm Weekly

One voice for Agribusiness. There's your problem. False premise. Wrong language. When you start talking about Farmers, Consumers, Communities, Health & Environment, I'll start listening.
19/07/2013 3:30:38 PM, on Farm Weekly

Imagine if we only had one political party in Canberra? Actually they already tried that over in rusky land with a man called Stalin. Be careful what you wish for! There are ignorant and informed farmers. Better industry is not run by ignorance or socialists
rationalise the rationalists
20/07/2013 5:45:04 AM, on Farm Weekly

Good on you Chris Back for having a go, but to have all those on the same song sheet would seem a little dangerous, I think the NFF was formed for that very reason, and it led us to where we are, deregulation, micro economic reform and privatisation, this was the NFF agenda of the 80's and 90's, it is that governments have all picked up this agenda that is our problem. It is convenient for gov to think we all will think the same or one organisation can do it all but I'm afraid we are often competitors in the game and we will not agree to do badly as farmers are now, try a reconstruction plan?


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