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Australia without family farmers is not ‘viable’ for our children’s future

Right now, as a consequence of political mediocracy, many thousands of family farmers across Australia face immediate ruin: 600-1200 family farmers in WA’s eastern wheat belt are under siege by the banks and both the state and federal governments, who appear to be conspiring to starve the farmers of credit in order to force them off the land and/or privatise and sell their cooperative to foreign grain cartels.

“Whether it be political mediocracy or the government bowing to international declarations, it is a step too far from protectionism to be rewarded with any form of ongoing public support”.

Any Australian with investment in rural land, are no longer able to obtain equitable finance, not only affecting their survival, but restricting their ability to increasing their holdings, yet foreign investors have easy access to the capital needed, because they need to secure food production for their own countries.

In a recent debate, both the Liberal and Labor parties made it clear, that they see the sale of our land, farms and water as income to the nation, without regards to our food security, saying “They can’t take the land with them” but they can take the produce, do they forget that?

Many hundreds of beef producers in northern Australia have been blindsided by the government’s outright sabotage of their export markets, which has caused a glut of beef on the domestic market that has driven down the price of cattle from $500-1000 per head, to as low as $20, leaving so many bankrupt and suicidal.

Hundreds of both fruit growers and dairy farmers in northern Victoria and South Australia are getting smashed by the government’s adopted policy of free trade, which is forcing companies like SPC Ardmona cannery in Shepparton to drastically reduce production, and has collapsed the price of milk way below the cost of production in many states.

The fact current farms numbers are only at 40,000, down sharply from 120,000 two decades earlier in 1991, and from 204,000 in 1953. If the people of Australia tolerate their governments, of both major parties, continuing to aggressively drive family farmers out of agriculture—whether for reasons of free trade, banker-rationed finance, the outcome is and will continue to be devastating.

The present crisis is not only a threat to local food security but also a threat to the global food supply. An estimated one billion people around the world go hungry every day, while two of the sectors where family farmers are being smashed, wheat and beef, just happen to be Australia’s two biggest agricultural exports.

Australia is the second largest wheat exporter after the U.S., and WA’s wheat growers produce the majority of the Australian crop. The government is letting the banks destroy WA’s growers, at a time when drought and freezing temperatures in the U.S. are expected to reduce that nation’s 2013 winter crop by 25 per cent, and dry conditions are reducing wheat production in Russia, traditionally the world’s third-largest wheat exporter

There is no better time than now for the government to step up and support all our farmers and producers, but the federal campaign is remaining ignorant of their plight, for the simple reason that both the major parties position on this important topic is unacceptable to all Australian voters.

There is no reason for any presently struggling wheat grower, beef producer, fruit or vegetable grower or dairy farmer to lose their farms. It is entirely within the government’s power to immediately declare a moratorium on farm foreclosures; order the banks to renegotiate farm debt at an affordable and equitable rate.

The establishment of a government agency for farmers to borrow at low interest to finance their crops and capital upgrades or the re-introduction of tariffs on canned fruit imports are reasonable and easily achieved ideals.

Penalties on Coles and Woolworths for further abusing their market dominance by sourcing fruit and vegetables from overseas that are produced domestically would also be an easy fix considering their massive profits from their unbridled control of the sector.

Something needs to be done NOW, and this matter should have been a major topic for the federal election campaign, the very fact it has not been shows the Australian media’s biases in its full glory.

As a federal Independent candidate, I am out there every day speaking to the people, and I am very well known for my support of our primary production arena, and I know for a fact this is the major topic on the lips of the electorate. 

"So with the present campaign ignoring the will of the people, it is doing nothing more than disenfranchising the voting public, and becoming a stain on democracy".

Mark Aldridge

Federal Independent candidate for Wakefield

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