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The Forum > Article Comments > An Australian food campaign that is not fair dinkum at all > Comments

An Australian food campaign that is not fair dinkum at all : Comments

By Greg Barns, published 8/8/2005

Greg Barns argues Tasmanian farmers want protectionism, but only for themselves.

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Greg Barnes might espouse great theories, but the pragmatics of what he argues is somewhat out of kilter. People donít just sell their farms because there is some kind of ultimate economic imperative understood by one and all. Farming is a lifestyle rather than just a job. Farmers are independent businessmen and their numbers cannot be reduced because it is economically viable to do so. Do we encourage small corner shops to make way for supermarkets as they are less economically viable?

It makes sense to buy local produced food, it is likely to be fresher, and carry less of a chemical residue
Posted by ant, Monday, 8 August 2005 10:11:51 PM
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If farming is largely a lifestyle thing then we definitely should not prop it up with subsidies, tariffs or other protectionist means
Posted by Terje, Monday, 8 August 2005 11:17:25 PM
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Well, if people really think that vegetables fertilised with human waste are in the long run cheaper than the ones grown in our own country, they must have read too many books.
In a world crying out to save oil, a vanishing resource, it makes no sense to transport vegetables and fruit thousands of kilometres, just because for the moment the lords of finance have decided to let the Chinese wage slaves produce them, to ruin the growers in other countries, INCLUDING in the Third World.
Posted by johnmassam, Tuesday, 9 August 2005 1:13:59 AM
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It is 1 thing to say find new markets, eg China. Have you tried that yourself? Have you sold fresh, perishable produce to China which has been air-freighted there, only to have it returned for some lame excuse (at your expense) because the price dropped a few days after it was sold? Then, because it is out of your hands, it is sold & returned again to China at an even lower price because it is of a lesser grade now? China is not the only country that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of geniune farmers trying to find new markets for their produce. Farmers are value adding where possible. However, because farmers are at the beginning of the food chain, they are still treated like the proverbial.

Farmers can no longer have a country-bumpkin-type life-style. Farming is now a high-tech science and farmers and their families need to be up-to-date with everything imaginable from business and legal, I.T, agronomy, water & land conservation, machinery operation, machinery repairs & I could continue - only I would probably put your skills to shame.

The impression I get from your article, is that you believe Tasmania is made up of too many small farms, which should be swallowed up by the larger farms - because you obviously believe this would make them more economical & viable. Let me tell you something. A farm is a member of a family. If it is not cared for properly, it will die. It is the farms that are swallowed up by bigger and bigger farms that invariably turn to salt basins (going a bit far - you see my point). When the big companies take over the small farms, they are only in it for the $$ and don't give a monkeys..about the land or the water or the environment or anything else other than their back pocket.

If we are going to have successful trade with China, make sure there are safeguards in place for farmers to prevent further heart-break to new-comers to the export trade. NB. Watch their cadmium levels!
Posted by brightside, Tuesday, 9 August 2005 1:25:24 AM
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One of the things you should also be addressing is the quality of the produce being rejected in Australia.

Have you ever stood on the back of a potato harvester and seen the perfect produce left to spill over the back of the harvester? Why does it go over the back? Because the packing sheds and supermarkets don't want it. It is either too big or too small - NO JOKE. Sad reality. People are starving, even in our own country, yet potatoes (and other fruit and vegetables) go to waste in our paddocks because farmers CAN'T (not won't) sell it. Some paddocks are white with the vegetables - some marked - majority just the wrong size.

What is worse still - when the produce is taken to the packing shed. It is graded again. Too big - and too small - rejected again. "Take it home to be dumped." - otherwise there is a dumping fee.

It is absolute Bs**t that there is not a market in Australia for this produce. The only reason is that the "girls at the checkout can't tell the difference" - told to us by a supermarket owner some years back when we were first told to stop including the bigs and smalls.

My solution would be to package bags of "smalls" and "bigs" and sell the average size loose. Many people like the smalls to boil in their jackets and the large to make chips. There is a market. The problem is the Australian packing sheds and supermarkets are the LAZY ones - not the farmers. The housewife would definitely be prepared to buy them. Just ask her. I can tell you she would - she already buys them by the 25kg and 50kg bag when given the opportunity, so I'm sure she would buy them in a 500g, 1kg or 2kg bag.
Posted by brightside, Tuesday, 9 August 2005 1:33:20 AM
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Great post brightside

Greg Barns has completely missed the point about the freshness of locally grown produce.

Interesting about the waste of small and large potatoes - I would happily purchase either size for different cooking purposes.

After reading another feature which refers to Earth Charter - surely it is both economical and environmentally preferable to grow produce in a sustainable method rather than relying upon chemicals/mass production. In the long term some protectionism now would pay off both environmentally and economically - more and more people are buying organic produce. We should be encouraging that trend to ensure a viable future rather than a profit now mentality.
Posted by Xena, Tuesday, 9 August 2005 7:41:29 AM
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