Address Australian food policies first: WA Farmers

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 16th April 2008

The Western Australian Farmers Federation (Inc.) (WAFarmers) is calling on Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd to fix government policies impacting on local food production as the first step in addressing
international food shortages.

WAFarmers President Mike Norton noted that Australian farmers have faced unfavourable
government policy for well over a decade and, as a result, Australia has seen a decline in farmer
numbers and agricultural sustainability, which has delivered poor financial returns on investments to

“The pursuit of alternative markets for farmers produce has stemmed from a lack of profitability and
supporting government policy. This, combined with unprecedented climatic conditions, has
contributed to the current world food shortages.”

“Australia is a global citizen that rightly should be concerned with the plight of developing countries
and make every effort to alleviate the suffering of the residents of those countries,” said Mr Norton.
“However, with the array of challenges which farmers have recently faced, not the least being the
need to adapt to climate change, the Australian government needs first to take a closer look at the
future of its primary producers and its own food supply.

“The benefits of the National Competition Policy and inequitable tariff structures are yet to be
demonstrated at the farm level. The National Competition Policy has worked against the family
owned and operated farm, while inequitable tariff structures have worked against food production
and the benefits of Free Trade Agreements,” highlighted Mr Norton.

“These are just a few examples of government policy having perverse outcomes on the primary
production sector.

WAFarmers is calling on the Prime Minister to immediately address deficiencies in government
legislation which currently disadvantages farmer’s terms of trade.

“Strengthening of the Trade Practices Act to provide regulators with the power to prevent price
gouging and supermarket domination, is one key area of legislation that requires immediate
attention,” concluded Mr Norton.