Farm­ers need more from re­tail­ers, not con­sumers

South Western Times - - News - Billy Kerr

There is no doubt­ing the im­pact that the se­vere drought on the east coast is hav­ing on farm­ing, but there are also ar­eas in WA that are strug­gling to main­tain pas­ture lev­els.

In a coun­try the size of ours there are al­ways ar­eas that are be­ing im­pacted upon by cli­matic ex­tremes and in many re­spects that is part of the cy­cle of liv­ing in this place.

Given the tra­di­tional re­silience of those who live on the land, it is sur­pris­ing that there is a call from the dairy in­dus­try for the in­tro­duc­tion of a milk tax that would see con­sumers pay­ing an ex­tra 10 cents per litre for milk with the money gen­er­ated go­ing to sup­port dairy farm­ers.

This plan is seen partly as a way of help­ing dairy farm­ers who are in drought and partly aimed at prop­ping up an in­dus­try that is held to ran­som by pro­ces­sors and the food chains who were sell­ing milk ridicu­lously cheap which meant the re­turns to grow­ers was se­verely im­pacted on.

I can un­der­stand that the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try has been do­ing it tough in some parts but to be fair we have all dipped in our pock­ets in one way shape or form in re­cent times to make do­na­tions of cash or kind to help this par­tic­u­lar in­dus­try out.

I find it a lit­tle ironic that this lat­est tax pro­posal which is gain­ing some trac­tion and the sup­port of the Fed­eral Min­is­ter and lo­cal Na­tional politi­cians is get­ting the sup­port that it is.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Mc­Gowan Gov­ern­ment moved to pro­pose a tax on the gold in­dus­try to help al­le­vi­ate soar­ing State debt lev­els.

You would have thought that some­one’s throat had just been cut such was the wail­ing that went on from the gold in­dus­try and the con­ser­va­tives in op­po­si­tion, but this milk tax is not that much dif­fer­ent.

It is a sorry in­dict­ment when parts of our com­mu­nity pro­pose new tax­ing regimes that hit the con­sumer in their wal­let when these same con­sumers are in a pay rise drought that has seen their earn­ings stag­nate over the past two years.

Rather than plun­der­ing our wal­lets, the dairy in­dus­try needs to look in its own back­yard first by de­vel­op­ing more proac­tive busi­ness plans and get­ting their mates in gov­ern­ment to lean on the pro­ces­sors and re­tail­ers to en­sure a more eq­ui­table and eco­nom­i­cally vi­able ap­proach.

The eco­nom­ics of in­dus­try are tough but some­times you just have to tough it out and that is what should be hap­pen­ing here.

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