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Are Rural Producers Facing Extinction?

The Treasurer Joe Hockey has declared the age of entitlement is over and the Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he wants business to stand on its own two feet. The Commonwealth government had declined to offer assistance to businesses including Holden and SBC Ardmona which has resulted in in thousands of jobs as processors and carmakers pack up and leave Australia for places that have less wages and conditions than Australians enjoy.

When you call the tradesmen or professional, whether the mechanic, the electrician or the lawyer, they all want to earn top wages and callout fees. These same people have their families shop at the supermarkets, hardware shop and footwear at the cheapest possible price. Most of goods purchased in Australia are manufactured overseas where wages and conditions are much less than Australians would ever countenance and there are laws to preserve their rights.

I guess were all guilty of wanting top price for a labour yet pay the bottom price for food to keep us alive. Surely the time has come when you must consider as a society what is sustainable.  The simple fact is manufacturers and rural producers create wealth. Surely the time has come with all the free trade agreements we should be looking at protecting our manufacturing and rural produce.

Farmers are the price takers whilst others like the supermarket duopoly are the price setters and if producers or a processor can’t come up with a price that the supermarkets can buy from other countries.



The farmers’ share
has declined from 80–90 per cent of price in 1900 to
10 per cent or less today


The fact if producers get a reasonable price it may ensure that they can ride out the drought years.

The prices that rural producers receive their stock whether it be fruit and vegetables stock or whatever are quite often below the cost of production and there is simply no way that producers can put anything away for the more difficult years. Fact money in Bank is great when hard times   strike, debt to banks can be disaster in waiting. 

Rural producers are a unique breed they generally buy their land the machinery to run farms and the stock to actually produce anything, and then they had to put up with poor prices, floods, fires, crop failure, predation on stock and pasture and even isolation.

Compare this to the average worker who works in processing works, that worker can expect a wage holiday, leave loading, superannuation and even a bonus with set hours. It is interesting to watch one large meat processor pay their workers obscene bonuses.  The only reason that they can afford to pay such generous bonuses is if they are paying farmers such a pittance for their stock.

The fact is workers are guaranteed a wage whilst rural producer take 90% of the risk in all sorts of ways.

The terrible thing is producers cannot afford to keep going with the rate of payment that they are receiving. The strength of any chain is the weakest link and the people who the industry relies upon are struggling with a toxic mixture of debt and low prices along with drought.

The fact is, if we treat our rural producers like Third World peasants people will leave the land and the processing sector which has been pressured to cut costs and the whole rural industry in Australia will come crumbling down.  This will allow foreign powers to purchase more Australian farms.

 At present time Southeast Asia is producing excess food which of course with their manufacturing and wage structure they can undercut Australian product.  This may not always be the case and when things change we could find that other nations actually own our farms and are producing and processing for their own benefit.  I really hope that I’m wrong however I suspect I may be correct.

With the New Year coming up perhaps our industry representative bodies and government and industry representatives’ bodies may a real attempt to find a solution.

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