Everybody including Paul Howes is an expert on farming

Paul Howes

According to this article  in The Australian – ‘Reform vital for farming’s future’  by STEFANIE BALOGH DECEMBER 01, 2013 2:03PM

INFLUENTIAL trade union leader Paul Howes says the era of “ma and pa farming” in Australia needs to end if the nation is to position itself as the food bowl of Asia.

Now firstly every man and his dog knows that Australia will never have the capacity to be the food bowl of Asia and it has nothing to do with the structure of our farms. Anyone with any knowledge of farming is with Professor Bill Bellotti on this one  See Can Australia Really Feed Asia

Secondly what fascinates me about Paul Howes comments below

To future-proof the farming sector, Mr Howes said it needed to look to the United States where “you have large scale conglomerates that can diversify across different states and different feedstocks and take advantage of those different elements to be able to have sustainable, long-term investment into the sector.”

Is that it is this “large scale conglomerates” structure that the modern consumer is rebelling against. See previous post Little Golden Book Farming

As Professor Bellotti points out

It has been estimated that Australia (population 22 million) produces enough food for 60 million….

Australia’s Chief Scientist recently pointed out that while Australia’s role as a food exporting country is vital, Australian agricultural knowledge and expertise is even more valuable, benefitting an additional 200 million people, often those most vulnerable. If Australia can double or quadruple food production, and improve its natural resource base through the principle of sustainable intensification, then we will have made a tremendous contribution to humanity.

It is clear Mr Howes knows little about agriculture and the people who produce his food and fibre. Whilst no-one is saying the current structure is perfect Australian farmers are giving it a bloody good go despite falling investment in research and development says Professor Bellotti 

They have remained in business despite droughts, floods, a high Australian dollar, low commodity prices, and increasingly complex regulatory and policy settings. Australian agricultural production has historically grown at around 2% per annum, an impressive result built on sustained government and industry investment in agricultural research and development.

If Australia is to greatly expand its contribution to global food security, there will need to be a significant and sustained increase in agricultural R&D, and this will need to come from both government and the private sector. But what research is needed, where is the strategic vision?    

Let me assure you Mr Howes, Dad and Dave left the building in the 50’s Australia doesn’t need “large scale conglomerates” What it needs is strategic vision?  

Also on this subject some highly informed content from Mick Keogh here

For someone like Mr. Howes, who makes his living representing participants in the most regulated sector of the Australian economy (the labour market) to criticise Australian farming (one of the most deregulated sectors of the Australian economy) and say it is in need of reform, shows a level of ignorance or hypocrisy that is almost breathtaking.

Thanks to http://sirwdchosen.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/meet-paul-howes.html for Cartoon