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TAS Country : February 2nd 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012 Tasmanian Country 7 News Farmers' plea for level playing field Future depends on investment TFGA matters with Jan Davis WE have just given the Government our submission for the 2012-13 State Budget. I reckon it is probably the most detailed case that the TFGA has put pre-Budget. Our hope, of course, is that they take the time to read it and to act upon it. It is important that they do because, without agriculture, this state would be in a worse shape than it already is. Our very first premise is that govern- ments ignore farmers at their peril --- whether they are Labor, Liberal, Green or Calathumpian. We provide the basic necessities of life. We are the essential service. Our promise to any government in Tasmania is that, come what may, farmers will not shirk from any task. They will lead the way through any economic crisis provided they are allowed to operate in the right environment. In return, we expect that the Govern- ment will adopt a more enlightened approach to governing. With the appropriate governance infrastructure in place, Tasmanian agriculture will fulfil its huge potential to maximise food and fibre production in the new era of irrigated farming for which we hand the Government due credit. Much of the hype around the new Tasmania is about food tourism and food technology, being clean, green and clever with our food production and food promotion. However, without the food, you have nothing, no starting point. And without the farmers, there will be no food. Not rocket science. Agriculture has been the backbone of the Tasmanian economy since Euro- pean settlement and ever more will be so.Our farmers, most of them TFGA members and supporters, will generate almost $2 billion income at the farm gate this year. That is 10 per cent of overall state income and one in every three dollars of private-sector income. If you add private forestry, another group represented by TFGA, this in- creases to $2.5 billion and accounts for one in every seven jobs. Some of the elements of the TFGA package include: A new department of Food and Agriculture, as well as a new Office of Food Policy. A HECS-style loan scheme for farmers to develop and enlarge their farms with farmers' repayments top- ping up the pool of money on a continuous basis. Training for farmers to ensure that irrigation is used effectively. A private forest development program. A broad program of biosecurity actions, including the specific develop- ment of a mixed enterprise biosecurity farm plan. Government co-investment in a program to minimise damage of high- value crops by browsing animals and nuisance birds. A FarmSafe program to reduce the high level of deaths and injuries on farm. Farmers are calling for less regu- lation and more self-management to enable them to compete on a level playing field with other Australian producers. Unless we get a more sensible approach to the rules impacting on the agriculture sector in Tasmania, many of our farms will be driven out of the industry. That is not spin. It is fact. The Government has got to get off the backs of farmers and farm foresters. Don't bite the hand that feeds you. In her Australia Day speech last week, the Governor-General said that ''the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the wine we drink, our shoes, our office stationery, the timber in our houses and in our kitchen tables are all connected to farming. So many essen- tials of daily life are there for us because of the efforts of our farmers''. In the Australian Year of the Farmer, TFGA's Budget submission urges the State Government to remember these facts, heed these reminders and not take Tasmania's hard-working farm sector for granted. It is important to understand that the future of the farming sector is depen- dent on one thing: growth. And just as crops need water to grow, the farm sector needs investment to grow. Now is definitely not the time for the Government to be cutting its investment in agriculture. Supermarket price war to hurt producers WARNING: Richard Bovill From Page 3 Fair Dinkum Food campaigner Richard Bovill said Coles was renowned as a ruthless negotiator with suppliers and with quality control. He said there would be businesses which fell through the net. Some suppliers were totally depen- dent on Coles for 40-80 per cent of their produce. ''The price war will hurt a lot of suppliers. They will have no option but to cut the price to meet the customer,'' he said. Mr Bovill said Coles had targeted products such as onions, carrots and tomatoes, which were in oversupply and prices were quite depressed. ''We have some of the largest sup- pliers to Coles in Australia in some of these categories,'' he said. ''The kind of deals that they are doing if product becomes tight you won't get any more money for it.'' If Woolworths followed suit it would strip margins and income out of regional Australia, he warned. ''A lot of consumers say 'it's good we get product cheaper' if you live in big cities but if you live in regional Australia it's bad because there are lower incomes coming back into the region.'' Mr Bovill said that supermarkets played suppliers off against each other. Price elasticity was strong for fruit such as bananas where sales could be doubled if prices were reduced. ''But on the kind of products they are offering there is not a lot of price elasticity,'' he said. ''You do not go out an eat twice as many onions because they cost 40 per cent less.'' Mr Bovill said that he doubted whether the increase in volume would offset the loss of margin for suppliers. Acting Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said Coles needed to make clear how its price agreement with farmers would ensure that farmers could remain profitable. ''Coles must make clear what its price arrangement with growers is, how long it will last, and what evidence they have that it won't hurt growers' ability to stay productive on the land,'' she said. ''The key question is what happens when the current glut is over? ''Can farmers renegotiate or are they locked in to a low-price agree- ment while Coles restores a higher profit margin?'' Tasmanian Independent Retailer's chief executive Grant Hinchcliffe said that IGA and other independent re- tailers may not be able to match the Coles' prices. ''We will wait and see at the moment but to match the prices would mean selling below cost and that is not viable and would put my retailers out of business,'' Mr Hinchcliffe said. The Wesfarmers-owned Coles could make up any losses on food with a number of other retail products, he said. Great cars, Great prices. 275 Main Road, Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3315 37-- 41 St John Street, Launceston Phone: 6334 8444 $24,990. Drive away. Metallic paint $350 extra. $22,990. Drive away. $23,990. Drive away. Metallic paint $350 extra. $17,990. Drive away. Diesel arriving soon X240 4X4 Petrol V240 4X2 Petrol SINGLE CAB V200 4X4 Turbo Diesel SINGLE CAB V200 4X2 Turbo Diesel DUAL CAB
January 26th 2012
February 9th 2012