Following the success of yesterday’s Farming Forum in Beaufort, senators John Madigan and Nick Xenophon are looking forward to holding similar events across regional Victoria and South Australia in the future.
The day provided local farmers the opportunity to raise any issues they saw as important to the future viability of their industry, with a common theme being that both state and federal governments aren’t doing enough to assist food producers.
Key issues that need to be addressed immediately are: clearer labeling laws; a reduction of bureaucratic red tape; the supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths; fair trade, not free trade; and a greater understanding of life on the land by city-centric government departments.
“Many people spoke about how their children had left the farm, never to return, because of the difficulty in making a decent dollar in a sector where successive governments have favoured multinational companies and supermarket lobbyists, rather than local food producers,” Senator Madigan said.
“I empathise with these people and can only imagine how frustrated they must be with politicians.
“Yesterday’s event will not be a one-off. Attendees were thankful that they had finally been given an opportunity to air their grievances to relevant stakeholders, and I look forward to giving more Australian farmers a voice in the coming months and years.”
Senator Xenophon told attendees that he would continue to fight for a fairer go for Australian farmers.
“Australian farmers have been thrown to the wolves of free trade – our farmers have been abandoned by successive governments and left to fend for themselves in an uneven playing field,” Senator Xenophon said.
“Unless there is urgent action, there won’t be a new generation of farmers to replace this one as they retire or walk off the land.
“We need to look at reinstituting a rural development bank – as we used to have in Australia – to provide long-term, sustainable finance for farmers.”
Speakers on the day were BeyondBlue ambassador Tony McManus, VFF vice-president David Jochinke, DEPI regional director (Grampians) Brendan Roughead, Pyreenees Shire councillor and farmer Robert Vance, and legal specialist Tom Moloney.
Senators Madigan and Xenophon are co-founders of the Australian Manufacturing and Farming Program: