If there is one topic that occupies the minds of farmers and those on the land more than the weather, or the price of wheat or wool or sheep or cattle – it is the future. Is there a future in agriculture for our children and grandchildren? If there is, what kind of future will it be?
Introduction – The Present – Where we Are.
There are statistics that show our agricultural productivity in Australia is declining not increasing. There are statistics that show increases in productivity are directly tied to investment in Research and Development. As a nation we are reducing our investment in research and development.
As we shall see later, when it comes to farming, there is evidence that bigger is not always better.
It is a worry that it was recently announced by Rabobank, one of the biggest agricultural banks in the world, that Australia is now the most expensive place in the world to grow wheat. It costs twice as much to milk a cow in Australia compared to the United States. Yet we compete in world markets with the United States for both dairy and wheat.
No grain grower will surprised to learn that in Australia it takes 16 trains to haul 60,000 tonnes of wheat to port, and in Canada it takes just six.
The background to this is that a few weeks ago, Ken Wilson, senior journo at the Farm Weekly interviewed both the Minister of Ag WA, Ken Baston and the Nationals Member for the Eastern Wheatbelt, Mia Davies. His questions were challenging.
I will leave you to make up your own mind on the substance of those interviews, whether Baston and Davies met the challenge. I was appalled the answers were tired, hackneyed party rhetoric. It was as if the problems are so great they wish it would all go away.
I got quite annoyed that if Baston and Davies are a fair and reasonable example of the experience and knowledge of agriculture in our State Parliament, then the majority, the city and urban members are at the very least being mislead even deceived.
I penned to the editor of the Farm Weekly a letter in reply to what I considered to be the nonsense uttered by Baston and Davies in their interview with Ken Wilson. As always I wrote far more than the paper could cope with. I did not disagree with the substance of their editing of my letter. Biggest problem was they excluded Ben’s graphs and tried to make up with words. It didn’t entirely work.
The Editor/ Ken Wilson and I agreed that we would run the whole series again in the Global Farmer, part of the reason being they had published an important article in the middle of seeding, so they felt that many may not have seen it, the other reason being that we all felt that the views of Baston and Davies, arguably the two most important agricultural members, one from the Libs and one from the Nats, should be seen for what they are. There are two possibilities. The first is they are toeing the Party Line. The second is they just don’t know anything about agriculture.
Mia Davies seems proud that the Nats have promised $300 million over 4 years to agriculture. She failed to say that one kilometre of Free way costs about $50 million.
It’s time the MSM, got out of the white linen restaurants where people who should know better talk about Australia being the ‘Food Bowl of Asia’. How can we be ‘The Food Bowl of Asia’ when we don’t even have a modern and cost effective rail system to get the grain from paddock to port? It’s just been announced no more money for rail, it will all have to go on road and the roads, believe me, are bu$$#@ed.
You know that money that was promised over 12 months ago, don’t think any has arrived yet. Like to hear what you think of Baston comparing putting investment into Australian agriculture to Holden General Motors.
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