23 June 2016

Agriculture Minister’s droughts concession solution will be ineffective

The Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s announcement yesterday to create a national body to administer drought loans is an ineffective use of government management over the agricultural industry according to CountryMinded.

CountryMinded Queensland Senate Candidate Pete Mailler said Minister Joyce has failed to address the agricultural supply chain issues ever since he took office and this has eroded the industry’s resilience.

“There was an opportunity for the Minister to enact legislation conditions on the bulk handling companies which essentially control market access for exported bulk grain, that passed before he took office,” Mr Mailler said.

“This condition was that it would be compulsory for bulk handling companies to provide stocks information to enable better competition in the supply chain.

“That was worth a significant amount of money to growers and the Minister’s inaction has cost growers $300-million since he’s taken office.”

Mr Mailler said the current system fails to solve the issues the agricultural supply chain faces and he doesn’t believe this new organisational structure will benefit rural and regional communities.

“The concessional loan system is an inappropriate measure to address exceptional circumstances and drought anyway, so changing who administers the loan scheme doesn’t make it more appropriate or fix the problem,” Mr Mailler said.

“If Minister Joyce wants to address issues around rural and regional resilience and the agricultural sector’s viability, he needs to look at supply chain transparency and the concentration of market power existing in nearly every agricultural supply chain in the country.”

Mr Mailler said if the agricultural supply chains’ lack of transparency isn’t addressed appropriately, it will continue to undermine rural resilience and affect the entire economy.

“If you take a dollar out of a farmer's pocket, you take $7 out of the economy,” Mr Mailler said.

“Failing to address supply chain transparency and market access, and the power of the monopolies is taking money out of everyone’s pocket.

“Close to $2.1 billion has been knocked out of the grains industry contribution to the economy and if you do the same calculations for the other agricultural supply chains you’re talking about literally tens of billions of dollars forfeited from regional economies.”

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Aisling Brennan

0438 895 095