April has been a month of policy disasters for Australian agriculture defining its now bleak future
Delivering a mortal blow to the dairy industry, our disingenuous ALP government, aided and abetted by traitorous so-called primary producer organizations such as the National Farmers Federation has not said boo about the largest ever shipment of Australian dairy cows and heifers shipped to China in the past eight months.
To top off this farmer coup-de-grace, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is acting as gigolo for a Chinese conglomerate offering to buy 15,000 hectares of prime farming country east of Kunnunurra in Western Australia.
The Shanghai Zhongfu group wants to grow its own irrigated sugar cane in the $311m second-stage expansion of the Ord irrigation project.
Another 13 companies and individual farmers are competing against the Chinese after submitting final expressions of interest to the West Australian government to farm all or part of the new area.
Should the Chinese offer be accepted this massive expansion of the sugar industry in Northern Australia will spell disaster for Queensland cane growers.
Zhongfu, trading as Kimberley Agricultural Investments, is also in discussion with the WA, NT and federal governments and traditional owners the Miriuwung Gajerrong Corporation to develop a further 15,000 ha of prime black soil downs country on the NT side of the Kimberley border.
A sweetener in Hawkes bid is to build is to build a $100m sugar mill in the Ord region.
Hawkes company also proposes to establish a super, 500,000 head a year abattoir in the east Kimberley to supply the beef export market to China.
This venture could also wipe out a proposal to build a large abattoir in the Cloncurry district of Noerth West Queensland.
This venture will also spell disaster for Australias largest pastoralist, the Australian Agriculture Company which has plans to start building an abattoir at Katherine.
KAI says it needs 30-40,000 ha of sugar crops to support a financially viable sugar mill and biofuel production.
In return for such a large investment the company is demanding all environmental and native title approvals be handed to it on a plate within two years.
Cairnsnews has copies of the WA Governments generic farm purchase contracts which are tailored towards a significant indigenous partnership arrangement for any purchaser in the Kimberley region.
It will be of interest to individual farmers bidding for land if these arrangements are included in any Chinese deal.
WA Farmers Federation president Dale Park said his organization was unlikely to oppose the Chinese bid.
EXODUS OF WORLD-BEST DAIRY BREEDING STOCK TO CHINA
In 2008 nearly 50,000 dairy cattle were exported overseas from Australian producers, but in the first eight months of this financial year 36,450 cows worth a staggering $44m have gone to China.
By the end of June exports will top 55,000 a rather dubious record which is unsustainable for the future of the dairy industry.
The export heifers, mostly from Victoria, are fetching up to $1600 per head, about 30 per cent more than the domestic market can afford.
The milk war between Coles and Woolworths has had a detrimental effect on the industry and coupled with de-regulation it has forced many farmers to the wall.
Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay are the only three countries licensed to export dairy cattle to China.