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TAS Country : February 23rd 2012
10 Tasmanian Country Friday, February 24, 2012 Your Say Oversupply hurting farmers already FOOD bowl, I don't think so! I am sick of hearing about this stupid idea. Re- cently, Jan Davis from the TFGA was talking about this and irrigation develop- ment on ABC radio and in the Tasmanian Country. It is about time that our government and others woke up from this dream they are in. Last year Australia had the biggest disaster due to the floods which hit almost all of the major vegetable- and other commodity- growing areas. There was still no big shortage of any vegies, other than a few tropical fruits grown in Queens- land. This season has been quite a good one for most growers, therefore there are large supplies of a lot of commodities. Tasmania already grows more vegetables than can be sold for a decent return to the grower, so why would anyone want to spend large amounts of money to buy water that is too expensive to make a decent return? Then of course you need to work your butt off day and night, have Coles and Woolies drop the price and expect the farmer to grow more and sell for less or for not much more than the cost of production because there is an oversupply. There is already a lot of irrigation equipment sit- ting idle, not doing any- thing. Most farmers would grow a lot more if they could get a fair and decent return for their effort. So what do you think will happen with all the extra produce that is grown when all these new areas get all this water? You will have a bigger oversupply and then the processors like Simplot, McCain, Glaxo, Tas Alka- loids and onion packers --- if there is an onion indus- try left after this season's world oversupply, remem- bering there once were five packers and exporters and a few smaller operators and now there are only two --- you will have all these farmers lining up for con- tracts to grow these. This will play right into these companies' hands and they will be able to drop their price to growers even more. Unless the government has a big new market for all this extra produce, what is the use of growing more? The TFGA and govern- ment would be better off testing more of this im- ported food that is coming into this country. Australian farmers have to have QA programs, not to mention these new re- strictive spray regulations. Soallweneedisafair playing field and then we might be able to make a decent return. G. Neal Wynyard Sound Kiwi economic advice WE can learn a lot from New Zealand as they give priority to their own wealth creators and long- term national interests. New Zealand dairy far- mers recently won a case in their Supreme Court to stop the sale of eight dairy farms to China. The case was won on the basis that the long-term economic value of these farms would be lost to the New Zealand economy if foreign in- terests bought them. New Zealand has several issues in its favour. Its government must be noti- fied and approve any sale of land over 5ha. The Ma- ori Treaty signed with the British allowed the sale of land to the Crown but protected the people from the acquisition by other foreign powers. In Australia foreign sales are not noted unless they exceed $244m or in the case of the US $1001m. Recently, Cargill, a pri- vately owned US family company, has bought the prized Billabong station near Wagga Wagga through its Hedge Fund, the Black River Asset Man- agement Group (an un- listed Cargill family com- pany). It paid about $9m for the property. Given that Cargill already dominates beyond the farm gate in our beef and wheat ex- ports, the wealth created from these assets does not stay in Australia. If this was an Australian company the ACCC would be limited in its dominance in the local market place. Under the rules of with- holding tax in Australia, foreign buyers who bor- row off shore or use off- shore consultants as ex- penses to purchase and run business here, pay only 10 per cent withhold- ing tax on expenses off shore. In the meantime our governments give sub- sidies to foreign companies to set up business in com- petition with local manu- facturers (OLAM Singa- pore almond processing) or sell our assets and intel- lectual property to foreign interests (Victorian Dairy Research Centre to China leaving local bidders out). We must manage our wealth-creating assets for our long-term benefit, not just the benefit of foreign interests. Lynne Wilkinson CEO Ausbuy Head in sand attitude stunts exports THE figures in Jan Davis' column (Tasmanian Country February 17) should not be left to go unchallenged. The report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science of November 2011 clearly indicates that the increase in woodchip exports from Victoria, NSW and WA are directly attributable to an increase in broadleaved plantation woodchip exports. It further indi- cates that the percentage mix is increasing rapidly to favour plantation wood- chips in those states. The very point of the rejection of Tasmanian woodchips by foreign markets is that they are not moving out of native forest -- and thus do not represent the plentiful, high-quality and cheap plantation woodchips that are available from other markets. In fact, the report noted that in Tasmania the harvest of broadleaved plantation had declined by 15 per cent in the 2009-2010 year. The fact that Tasmanian forest industry repre- sentatives continue to op- erate with their collective heads in the the sand, or even darker places, is what is killing the potential in the industry. Patrick Johnson Melrose
February 16th 2012
March 8th 2012