Wednesday, October 9, 2013

HuntBlog Newsletter 8 October 2013

Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow


A fortnight or so ago, that old warhorse John Carter travelled down to my farm at Robertson on the Southern Highlands of NSW to kindly give me two oak trees that he had carefully propagated from acorns produced from the 2000 odd oak trees that John has planted on his farm at Crookwell in the Southern tablelands of NSW.

Along with the two baby oak trees, John presented me with a photograph of the baby oak trees grandparent which had a 60 m spread.

The two baby oak trees were proudly planted, one (which we have named Anne after John’s wife) in the orchard next to the Pink Lady apple trees and the other down near the cattle yards (where else?) which we of course christened John.

John assures me that the oak trees are quick growers and will reach maturity in the rich Robertson basalt soil within 150 years!

After the tree planting we enjoyed a congenial thank you lunch for John and Anne Carter in Robertson’s famous Pizza in the Mist restaurant. We discussed topics of common interest such as the need for farming organisation reform and the impact of ever increasing Australian supermarket power on the farming sector with John recounting his research that showed that American beef producers received much more of the consumer dollar for their cattle then Australian beef producers received for their cattle.

Our lunch time conversation also touched on the topic of the Indonesian government’s plans to buy up Top End cattle producing properties to secure the supply of Australian cattle for the Indonesian feedlot industry but it became apparent that we held different views on this issue. 

So John and I skirted around the foreign investment subject and explored our common interest in gardening instead and discussed the two famous Edna Walling gardens in John and Ann’s home town of Crookwell.

The week after the oak tree planting we received 250 mm(or 9 inches, of rain) on the farm at Robertson as a christening present for our baby oaks – so they are off to a good start in life.

The Rural Industry Challenge for the Coalition and the National Party

Shortly after the oak tree planting and christening weekend I published the 20 September 2013 HuntBlog Newsletter regarding the rural and regional and cattle industry crisis challenge confronting the new Coalition Government and the National Party.

The response to the 20 September 2013 HuntBlog Newsletter has been a surprising cavalcade of emails and information on the 9 challenges that the HuntBlog Newsletter listed for the new Coalition Government.

The 9 challenges that the HuntBlog Newsletter listed were:

1. Australia’s uncompetitive government influenced costs and charges,
2. Australia’s supermarket duopoly,
3. the need for true parity Free Trade Agreements,
4. the need to protect, promote and develop Australia’s domestic food markets
5. the need for an active decentralisation policy,
6. the associated need for improved regional telecommunications road and rail infrastructure,
7. the urgent need for a rural and regional Development Bank to provide long term ”patient” finance to Australian producers to enable them to take advantage of the much touted Asian food bowl opportunities,
8. the need to bring our rural industry organisational structures into the 21st century and enfranchise grass roots producers, and
9. the need for a long-term plan to protect Australia’s food security and control the purchase of Australian farming and grazing land by overseas state-owned or controlled companies.

I have received mail on all of the 9 listed challenges, but the flurry of responses and information supplied with respect to the supermarket duopoly and acquisition of Australian farming land by overseas state owned companies has been overwhelming.

The attached HuntBlog Legal and Market Review of the double whammy effect of Australia’s supermarket duopoly and our current foreign investment laws on Australian farmers takes the opportunity to share some of that comment and information with you.

In doing this I would like to mention the contribution of Ben Rees in particular and acknowledge the host of other people who have furnished the information referred to in the attached Legal and Market Review.

Those that have read the attached HuntBlog Legal and Market Review on the watering down of our current anti- monopoly laws over the last couple of decades and the current state of our FIRB national interest controls on foreign state-owned and state funded acquisition of Australia’s farming land and agri-businesses will be aware that both our anti-monopoly and foreign investment laws are in urgent need of review.

The Coalition government have foreshadowed a review of our competition laws and the National party and Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan have our foreign investment laws squarely in their sights.

John Carter, and the ABA ,led the charge on the destructive power of the supermarket duopoly over the last few years whilst the MLA and Cattle Council looked the other way.

It may be that the need for Australian beef producers to respond the supermarket duopoly acorn that John Carter and the ABA planted at the beginning of this decade will grow into a sturdy oak tree under the stewardship of Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce, Senator Nash, Senator Williams, and other like-minded politicians in the new Coalition government.

The leader of the National party and  Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss, the  new Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, John Cobb, the Assistant Minister for Health National  Senator Fiona Nash, and Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan have led the charge in recent years on foreign sovereign state owned acquisition of prime Australian  farmland and agribusinesses.

Hopefully the concern about foreign sovereign state owned investment acorn that Warren, Barnaby, John ,Fiona and Bill have planted will also grow into a sturdy oak tree during the term of the new Coalition government

Lets hope that both the supermarket duopoly acorn and the foreign sovereign state investment acorn have been planted in fertile soil and that, along with the two oak trees that I was given by John and Anne Carter, they grow quickly and start producing their own offspring for Australia in the near future.

Neither I or Australia’s rural industries can afford to wait 150 years for an outcome!

To paraphrase Senator Bill Heffernan’s comments that are set out at the end of the attached HuntBlog Legal and Market Review, if Australia doesn't move quickly to plug the three pronged attack on Australia’s farmers-flowing from a combination of uncompetitive government costs and charges,the effect of supermarket power on the profitability of Australia’s food producers and resultant foreign sovereign investment takeover of consequently struggling farming and agribusiness enterprises – Australians will be in danger of becoming  tenant farmers in their own country.

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