November 1st 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: France and Italy address fertility crisis

EDITORIAL: Bushfires: why the nightmare will be repeated

CANBERRA OBSERVED : Reforming the Senate?

MEDIA: Packer's media-gambling alliance

HEALTH: Abortion-Breast Cancer cover-up continues

FAMILY: Preserving marriage in Australia

AGRICULTURE: Mandate ethanol or sugar industry faces collapse

LETTERS: Time for farmers to wake up (letter)

LETTERS: New TV code of practice (letter)

LETTERS: Special needs, special treasures (letter)

LETTERS: New use for sugar cane trash (letter)

LETTERS: Nuclear menace (letter)

HEALTH WATCH: The 'morning after' pill: coming soon to a school near you?

WATER: Federals distance themselves from 'The Living Murray'

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Jim Cairns remembered

COMMENT: SBS programming questioned by Vietnamese community

ASIA: Siberia - China's 'great game' to reshape Asian region

COMMENT: Don't forget the threat from North Korea

Hong Kong: next elections a test for Beijing

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Time for farmers to wake up (letter)

by John Parkin

News Weekly, November 1, 2003

Patrick Byrne's article "The issues behind the rural crisis" (News Weekly, September 20) pointed up the stupidity of successive governments and academic economic theorists, which have virtually destroyed rural and manufacturing industry in Australia.

When I started farming some 50 years ago, we operated under the system devised by "dynamic community-minded farmers, who had created rural co-ops, marketing boards single selling desks, regulated authorities and rural credit unions to ensure farmers received a just price for their products and access to adequate finances."

These bodies meant that consumers also got a quality product at the cheapest possible price. Bodies that come to mind are the Potato Marketing Boards and Co-ops., Milk Boards with their contract suppliers guaranteeing regular supply at a reasonable price.

I remember the era before the single selling desks delivering barley to the malthouse for 5c bushel and a Smiths Weekly cartoon with the caption "He's so low he could walk under the price of wheat with his hat on!"

That there are those among farmers and some peak bodies advocating the abolition of these single desks is remarkable. How quickly they forget!

No wonder the US wants the abolition of single selling desks and the weakening of quarantine as condition for a free trade agreement!

It is time for Australia to implement the eight points enunciated in Byrne's article.

It is time for the peak organisations to either lift their game or move aside for a new body to truly represent farmers.

It is time that not only governments, but also all farmers woke up to the economic destruction and terrible social disintegration these policies are wreaking on rural communities!

John Parkin,
Bungaree, Vic

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