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TAS Country : December 2nd 2010
12 Tasmanian Country Friday, December 3, 2010 TFGA tfga.com.au THOUGHT FOR FOOD: Professor Jonathan West of the Australian Innovation Research Centre. Picture: RAOUL KOCHANOWSKI Wanted: HECS for farmers TFGA matters with Jan Davis Our headline bid this time is a Government- sponsored loan scheme for farmers, along the lines proposed by Professor Jonathan West of the Australian Innovation Research Centre. He's a lateral thinker who talks a lot of commonsense.' TASMANIA gets a new Treasurer next week when Lara Giddings takes over the purse strings from the retiring Michael Aird. Ms Giddings has performed well in a growing list of tough portfolios, and she is articulate, to boot. She seems well equipped to be a deliver the goods as Treasurer of Tasmania. Next year's State budget will be her first real test. Every year at this time, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association sends the Treasurer its submission for the next State Budget; and on each ensuing State Budget day we go through the reams of documents to try to find how well the Government has paid attention to our requests. I have to say that that job is not made any easier by the manner in which the Budget is presented. Finding the information on the day is difficult. Perhaps we will supply Ms Giddings with a checklist next year so that she can tick off our successes and explain our failures. Our headline bid this time is a Government-sponsored loan scheme for farmers, along the lines proposed by Professor Jonathan West of the Australian Innovation Research Centre. He's a lateral thinker who talks a lot of commonsense, as we found when he addressed the last TFGA conference in Launceston. A problem that faces both farmers and their bankers is the long lead time involved in agriculture, particularly horticulture. To benefit from the economies of scale, farmers have to convince their financiers to lend them enough up front to invest in infrastructure that will eventually see the crop through to maturity and provide the returns that only those economies of scale can achieve. Now that takes a lot of imagination (and demand for collateral) on behalf of the banker and a willingness on the part of the farmer to plunge the family farm into a deep mortgage regime. When you have had a fairly ordinary few years of poor rainfall, low commodity prices, tunnel-visioned or fleeing processors and a high exchange rate, it takes courage to immerse yourself into that level of long-term debt before the revenue starts to flow. It is this siege mentality that can stifle enterprise. What we are suggesting to Ms Giddings is that the state administer a revolving pool of money that farmers can access in order to invest in innovation or infrastructure but the begin to repay only when the returns start to roll in. It is very similar to how HECS works for tertiary students. Study now, pay when you are earning. There are a range of other recommendations in our submission --- covering areas as diverse as irrigation, forestry and weed management. We are not looking for handouts in this process, because farmers are can-do people. What we want to do is continue to grow our industry in a sensible, rational, realistic way --- with all the benefits that brings to us and to the Tasmanian community. 2029332-101105 TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania A nitrogen application followed by rain or irrigation could significantly increase your poppy crop returns $100m loan ranger proposal From Page 3 ''The funds should be made available only to experienced or qualified indi- viduals, for land in regions externally verified as suitable, perhaps optimal, for the proposed usage. ''The fact that sets Tasmanian agri- culture apart is that this sector is perhaps Tasmania's greatest asset be- cause it continues to grow and diver- sify, while other sectors decline. ''The Government must allocate ad- equate Budget resources to ensure that agriculture continues to advance and innovate and to deliver improved performance and value to the overall state economy.'' In other proposals, the TFGA is asking for: $3 million over three years for the development and delivery of irrigation efficiency programs. $500,000 over three years to help farmers develop property management plans. $375,000 over three years to establish an industry development program for forestry activities on private land. $375,000 over three years to appoint a biosecurity liaison officer to work with farmers to advise and ensure com- pliance with the numerous biosecurity requirements, vendor declarations and best-practice measures. $500,000 to implement the rec- ommendations of the Alternatives to 1080 report, once it is released. The TFGA also outlined the following facts: Tasmania represents just 0.9 per cent of Australia's land mass, but has 14 per cent of its fresh water. The ratio of arable land to popu- lation is the highest in Australia, with agriculture occupying 24 per cent of the state's land mass. Tasmania has the most usable sun- shine -- less than the mainland in winter, but more in the critical ripen- ing periods of summer and autumn. In 2008-09, the farm-gate value of agriculture and fishing was $1.68 billion, 6 per cent of the gross state product. From 2003-04 to 2008-09, the increase in the value of production was 42 per cent. More than 17,000 people are directly employed in farm-related activities. The farm-dependent economy contributed $5.4 billion (18 per cent) to gross state product and one in six jobs. Tassie proves a global pyrethrum leader From Page 7 As part of BRA's production boost, the company has planted about 1450ha of new crops in Tasmania this year and about 153ha of the crop in a new growing area in Ballarat in Victoria. Mr Groom said after regular spring rains, this year's crop had needed little, if any irrigation and the crops were in good shape. ''It's been a very good season and a fantastic spring,'' he said. ''We did have a wet winter which has caused some patches in a few paddocks, but apart from that it's been a very good growing season.'' Harvesting is expected to start in late December, when fine, dry weather will be needed to dry the crop. At harvest time, the crops are cut and dried then the company's 38 harvesters swing into action. Mr Groom said the crop normally had a three week window then the flowers were at the ideal stage for harvesting Processing at the BRA factory happens year round. After being brought to the fac- tory, the flowers are pelletised for storage to prepare them for the refining process. Pyrethrum has a highly potent insecticide that is produced nat- urally by the plant to protect it from insects. During the refining process, this naturally occurring oil is extracted from glands around the seed casing in the flower heads. Mr Groom said one of the major advantages of the crop was that after processing, the product was extremely concentrated, so ship- ping and transporting was simple.
November 25th 2010
December 9th 2010