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Standing up for hard working farmers and producers by the Aussie public is a worthy cause on many fronts, whether it is to ensure hard working Australians get a fair go, demand clean fresh and healthy produce, or to simply ensure we maintain a fair and competitive market, the price of inaction is indeed a price to high to pay, says Mark Aldridge, local community advocate & Independent candidate.

The birth place of “Farm Direct” community markets and my many campaigns over the past few years is directly related to the lack of will of our supposed representatives to protect our food and manufacturing industries.or service without using an image. Try keeping the paragraph short and breaking off the text-only areas of your page to keep your website interesting to visitors.

Inferior imports, dodgy product labelling, food dumping, the sale of our primary land and assets into foreign hands, is only a part of a much bigger problem.

Australia has one of the most concentrated grocery markets in the world. Woolworths and Wesfarmers (owner of Coles) account for over 80% of supermarket sales, 60% of alcohol retail, 50% of petrol retail and 40% of all retail in Australia.

The more market share they gain, the more influence they have over suppliers, and the easier it is to stamp out our smaller independent retailers.Ironically West farmers originated in the early 1900’s as a coop to support farmers and producers, yet in recent times, have been accused more than once of using their new found power to rape farmers of their hard earned rewards.

*Supermarket giant Woolworths has been accused of using "brutal negotiations" to squeeze price cuts from suppliers to help fund a price war with rival Coles.*

Just recently many producers and growers have come forward with reports of unfair market manipulation, where Woolworths themselves have demanded a lowering of the wholesale price so they can enter a price war with Coles, those that refuse have been told they will be taken off the shelves, and we all know the risk of replacements coming from some foreign growers and producers.

“My investigations go much further showing all sorts of deceitful practices” says Mark

Having met with many local producers and spoken to the experts in the agricultural industry, what I am hearing is simply un-Australian, from undue influence, market manipulation to our right deceitful and misleading conduct.

Most countries offer their primary producers government subsidies to help them compete on the world stage, our farmers and growers are by far the most productive, yet the governments only input is excessive red tape to achieve “Fresh food accreditation”, which most overseas governments ignore, begging the question “If imported foods take over where local fresh production once supplied all our needs, what exactly will we be eating?

”Hearing personal stories from so many growers brings a tear to my eye, months tending to their crops, careful picking and packing, shipping it off to one of the big 2, only to be told their produce is rejected, but wait we can take it of your hands for half price or less, yet the same produce hits the shelves at full price, wiping out producers on a weekly basis, this type of conduct is nothing more than criminal.

Woolworths “The fresh food people” have their hands in many pies, they are also Australia's largest owner of poker machines (13,480 machines) and the largest seller of tobacco and alcohol.

Wesfarmers operates in the areas of retail, coal mining, energy, insurance, chemicals and fertilisers, and industrial and safety products, buying up Coles Group in 2007 for $22 billion. 

These supermarket giants have been blamed for Australians paying the fastest growing prices for groceries in the developed world, so it is as usual all about the money, it is not about the quality of the produce or the protection of hard working farmers and producers, and it is definitely not about our countries best interests.

“Woolworths and Coles are a $100 Billion a year duopoly with a retail market share unmatched in the developed world, and our politicians are doing nothing to stem their growth or market dominance” Says Mark Aldridge, so it is time we the people did!

With a reported 80% or more of the market in groceries, they have a massive impact in Australia, England’s largest 2 enjoy 48% and the US a mere 20%, so it is fair to consider our government should have put the brakes on long ago, and more than enough reason for we the people to do it for them in the circumstances.

Over the past few years I have fought for reforms, held rallies, lobbied and spoken all over the state and nation on the topic, yet the government and the coalition refuse to act, “Why do Australian voters keep rewarding such incompetence?

”We have lost a huge slab of farming land to international interests, most of our larger manufactures and mass food packaging companies have also found their way of shore, so it has become imperative that those that remain are not only protected but we build an accountable system, which will reward increased investment in the vital production of our food stocks, not just for us, but also for future generations.

Have many noticed that most big shopping centres only have one or maybe both of these grocery stores, yet none of their competitors, well that is not a coincidence, their huge money ensures they can now control competition.

It is not only about how our producers are treated and even paid, it is also about the rights of consumers, my wife and I prefer local products and Australian made items, yet it is far from easy to tell the difference, labelling is less than satisfactory, and some home brand products are deliberately misleading, shelf placement also makes a huge difference.So many issues arise when we simply wish to make an informed choice, Australian made, GMO, even Halal certification, as if we need not know, yet it is our money, our bodies and our long term future, so it should be our choice,

China is known to treat its cabbages with formaldehyde and some foreign apple growers used the antibiotic streptomycin on their apples to control fire blight, do any of us want our children exposed to this?

“More than 23 cents in every dollar Australians spend ends up in this duopolys pockets” begging the question “Where the hell is our government and their ACCC.

Dare we allow this to continue, our farmers, growers and producers are being forced to live on as low as 5% of what you are paying at the counter, so the supposed huge discounts on offer are smoke and mirrors, and it becomes unbelievable the big 2 want to reduce their meagre 5%, do the sums, only then will you get a true picture facing those on the land.

“The story I heard recently of an area with 27 growers being reduced to 2, due to dirty practices, in less than a year is simply unacceptable”

Until I am elected to take on this battle with the federal government, I have opened several “Farm Direct” Markets across the state, and actively work with our farming Industry to ensure their survival.

My 2013 Federal campaign “Put your money in the right pockets” will continue to ask every Australian to also lead by example because while we endure mediocracy in government, it is up to we the people to get the job done.

We must also demand easy to read labelling to allow us to support local produce and priority shelve locations, if they are all about serving the Australian public, then these demands should be perfectly acceptable.For more information please contact the writer.

Mark M AldridgeCommunity advocate and Independent candidate for the federal seat of Wakefield 08 82847482 / 0403379500


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