May 8th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Trade deal - surrendered sovereignty

EDITORIAL: Competition policy destroys retail liquor competition

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Will new NCP inquiry be a whitewash?

COMMENT: Economic zealotry triumphs over commonsense

EMBRYOS: Cloning - a licence to kill

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Fallout from hospital strikes / Lots of help for MPs

ENVIRONMENT: PM at odds with Murray River report

HEALTH: Sexual reassignment at age 13!

Expert advice? (letter)

Dairy industry (letter)

Latham and Asia (letter)

DEVELOPING WORLD: Grameen Bank - banking on the poor

EAST ASIA: Why Japan is building a ballistic missile defence

BIOFUELS: Sugar industry forum on ethanol

COMMENT: Iraq is not Vietnam

HUMAN RIGHTS: Vietnam's sex trade shame

FAMILY: Why John Howard is right on marriage

ASIA: Why Taiwan should be in WHO

BOOKS: LEFT ILLUSIONS: An Intellectual Odyssey, by David Horowitz

BOOKS: The Coming Of The Third Reich, By Richard J. Evans

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Dairy industry (letter)

by Leon Ashby

News Weekly, May 8, 2004

As a former dairy farmer, I sympathise with the despair in the industry, but question its direction.

Sure, I believe dairy factory executives on $400,000 a year don't have much sympathy for farmers who are working long hours and losing money, and I would like to see them paid comparatively to their farmers' net income.

However, I think that dairy farmers should think more broadly, and look at taking control of the industry themselves.

To my way of thinking, the Australian dairy industry is doomed only because it is not united and the average farmers have no influence on the prices they get. They have allowed themselves to be dealt cards that make themselves powerless.

The solution appears to me to be, to come together Australia-wide, act unitedly, and deal the cards differently. Only then can dairy farmers force better structures, make better industry decisions and receive higher milk prices.

The difficulty with this simple idea is that farmers' meetings, as they are, will not do this. They are too slow, too cumbersome and too costly.

However, this can be overcome with new technology - farmers meeting via interactive satellite TV in the comfort of their own homes.

The technology is already available for hire, so meetings with voting facilities can be carried out easily.

Satellite dishes and receivers on farms are all that need to be installed ($350-$450).

If dairy farmers do not unite and force a pricing structure (and there are two models I believe are worth considering), then either they must be satisfied with going broke, or they do not yet realise how easy it is to use modern technology to have Australia-wide meetings.

Leon Ashby,
Grazier and President of BushVision,
Mount Gambier, SA

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