Suck it up, princess and a farmer’s election year wishlist

There’s been a bit of biffo on Twitter and on dairy farming forums of late. Some people are clearly very angry with our leaders. Others are polite but rather bluntly say “suck it up, princess”.

I’m in between.

I want to be among the top 10 per cent of Australia’s dairy farmers. Not because I am a nutty type A personality but because only the top 10 per cent make a good living. So, tonight I’m up late wrangling spreadsheets, casting a sharp eye over our budgets and trying to benchmark our performance.

That doesn’t stop me from wanting better from our politicians so that Victorian dairy farmers get a fair go. We’re not subsidised like our US or European competitors and we don’t have a free trade agreement with China like the world’s best dairy farmers across the Tasman, so we need to be lean, efficient and smart to survive.

To do that, we need:

  • relief from the carbon tax that puts us at an instant disadvantage
  • a more level playing field. Forget subsidising cars and get on with the China FTA.
  • to deal with the duopoly
  • most of all, to invest in ag R&D.

Being smart has historically been our strength, but no longer. Sue Neales of The Australian reports that:

“Australia’s spending on agricultural R&D has also dropped internationally from 9th to 16th place, according to a global study presented at the same conference.”

“Treasury last year predicted the value of agriculture to the nation could grow from its current size equivalent to 2.5 per cent of national gross domestic product, to 5 per cent by 2050, surpassing the manufacturing sector.”

If we are destined to become agricultural dunces, dairy farmers battling to survive on a tilted playing field will never manage the growth needed to make Australia Asia’s food bowl.

3 thoughts on “Suck it up, princess and a farmer’s election year wishlist

    • Hi Gabrielle,

      The problem is we can’t pass our costs on to the milk processors, global commodity markets or supermarkets.

      It has a massive impact on us because the milk factories are heavily penalised and pass the cost onto us in the form of lower milk prices. At an estimated 0.5 cents per litre, that adds up to a pay cut of about $9000 for our very average dairy farm. At the same time, some of our costs, like power, refrigerants and so on, have increased dramatically.

  1. While our ag dept budgets get cut down to nothing and producers get squeezed by Coles and Woolies, China has an eye on buying up our productive land. The Chinese know the importance of food production and they’re taking matters into their own hands, while our politicians are letting thousands of hectares go to offshore investors for short term monetary gain. Ugh I can feel your frustration 🙁 Sadly it isn’t popular policy to care about the farmers – “rural and regional Austraya” gets appeased with promises of new hospitals and schools, and that’s as far as it goes.

    Sorry about the rant! Great post, very thought provoking 😉

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