Comment: ag needs less meddling

By Murray Ellis, Wannamal Stock Producer
February 22 2022 - 6:00am
Comment: ag needs less meddling

THE excellent article by Tom Marland (Farm Weekly, letters, February 10), where he questioned the cost of agriculture advocacy, raised a lot of issues and hopefully will initiate positive action for the future wellbeing of all aspects of Australian food and fibre production.

To balance his article, Mr Marland gave some prudent facts of the industry, employment, pertinent aspects of broad economics and the naturally hostile agricultural environment of drought, fires, floods and pests.

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Plus there are further difficulties for agriculture, trade embargoes, government restrictive trade policies (such as China's current stance on Australian barley and wine imports) and international competition which also influence farm profitability.

In simple terms, farming in Australia is difficult enough, without unnecessary interference and meddling by organisations and people who have no understanding of industry, farm practice, trade, or the national economy.

And in two of these instances, by prominent organisations hell-bent on destroying agriculture.

There are four main intrusive and subversive sources which interfere with agriculture as an industry:

  • Organisations that have proven beyond doubt that they want to attack, damage and destroy agricultural production.
  • They use 'fifth column' tactics, are dishonest, use sensationalism and production/supply chain difficulties to their advantage and the media when it suits them. And given unfortunate circumstances, which are readily portrayed on TV or via social media, they often have support from the dumb public.
  • The modern 'social media' scene, where uninformed and ignorant people can latch on to a subject and blissfully attack a production or marketing system. These people are many, unfortunately, and can be dangerous.
  • Red tape, the bureaucracy of industry organisations, governments, outdated laws.
  • Other factors - population demographics and the move to urban living, immigration, total disinterest, work and pastimes of city dwellers, some academics and complete ignorance. And governments of the day.

There are no positive industry protection laws, or empowered government bodies, to protect most aspects of supply chains for agricultural industry, from production to market or consumption.

In the past, certainly in the sheep and cattle industries, there has been fierce opposition to unwarranted interference from the anti groups.

This support from the two main industry bodies in Western Australia, the Pastoralists and Graziers' Association of WA and WAFarmers.

However there is no assistance in the form of comment, policy, legislation or action by government departments or the police.

To comment on just two facts of industry interference.

  • The shutting down of the live cattle trade exports by the Labor government circa 2011.

This was a panic solution, by a panicked minister and a reprehensible out of touch government and based solely on dubious information from one market destination.

Subsequently, this action and the minister have been sued via a class action by affected producers, who won their case.

Of significance is that the individual affected producer lost a lot of income over the years.

The minister found to be irresponsible and guilty of unjustified action paid no personal monetary cost in this instance.

He was proven wrong but not punished.

This policy needs to change.

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  • The inclusion of mulesing legislation on wool for sale specifications.

How this was allowed to happen is mind boggling, but is apparently based on the completely false premise of customer preference.

A good example of when 75 per cent of Merino sheep producers continue with a responsible management practice to ensure the best lifetime welfare and health of their sheep flock; directly in the face of an arrogant stance by ego-tripping industry bureaucrats.

What will be required in the future to protect rural industries is in reality fairly simple, but may prove difficult to implement.

It will require legislation to:

  • Reduce or cease completely the Federal funding to the two major agricultural terrorist organisations.

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Then prime minister Tony Abbott markedly reduced the government funding to Animals Australia in 2013.

So it can happen.

  • Approve by law management practises such as mulesing, feed-lotting, feed ingredients and live shipping.
  • Have a body (agricultural departments with police powers - not unlike former stock inspectors, or shire rangers ) to allow these practices to proceed and prevent interference by rural terrorists, fanatic activists, louts and misinformed no-hopers who wish to break the law.
  • Funding to oppose the action of rural terrorists and the misinformed, by way of a levy on the food bought by the public; meat, milk, bread etc.

In reality a GST on food.

It should not be funded by producers who pay enough taxes - some of which support the deluded protestors in their various forms.

Producers also have another avenue to protest against the variety of agricultural antis, change producing some food items, change from wool to sheep meat, change from sheep to goats or beef or intensive forms of meat production, or to cropping enterprises.

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In effect, starve the radicals.

Three factors of real significance in the fight against the coercive anti farming campaigns are that farmers can diversify if forced to, the world population is increasing and the market for quality food is increasing as many countries become more affluent.

All good for the future of food production where hopefully demand will be an important ally against the anti people and weirdo radicals.

Australians go to the polls soon, Federally and in the States.

Work on the various candidates, make agricultural terrorism a voting topic, get commitments, then choose your candidates.

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