Australia’s first ever farmer-led farmers’ union ‘not dead’

By Matt WicksPublished Nov 10, 2017 05:22:58It is not over yet, Australia’s agriculture industry has vowed to “continue to fight for a fairer deal” to help farmers in the face of a Government that has threatened to pull the plug on the country’s only viable national agribusiness company, AgriLife Australia.

The announcement by the National Farmers Union comes just hours after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told farmers it was not over for the industry after he was told by a former minister it was too late to prevent the Australian Federal Government from shutting down Agri Life Australia.

AgriLife was founded in 1901 by Sir John Ridsdale, an Australian naval officer who was instrumental in developing the world’s first “Agricultural Revolution” of the mid-20th century.

It is the second-largest private sector agribustion company in the world, with a turnover of $10.5 billion and employs more than 13,000 people.

In the wake of the announcement, Australian Farmers Union chief executive David Dyer said he was “disappointed” with the decision by the Prime Minister.

“We are disappointed that this Government is not willing to negotiate a fairest deal for farmers,” he said.

“I don’t think it is a fair deal for Australian farmers.”

The Government had said it would “determine whether it is in the public interest to close down” Agri Lifes business in Australia if the industry is not offered more than $6.5 million in relief packages.

Mr Dyer has called for a review of the government’s “no-strings-attached” subsidy program for the agriculture industry, saying it should be extended to cover farmers with the same access to public funds as other industries.

But he said the Government should be more transparent about the circumstances of Agrilife’s closure and how it plans to pay for the support it provides to farmers and their families.

“The Government should have the right to make an announcement on whether it believes that this is in Australia’s best interests and what that would mean for farming and the rural economy,” Mr Dyer told the ABC.

“So I would expect that the Government would be more forthcoming in that regard.”

But Mr Dyers said that would not be enough to save Agri life.

“If we can’t get a fair and competitive deal from the Government, then we will be left to fight this Government for the future of agriculture in Australia,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the Coalition would “continue” to work with farmers to find a fair solution.

“That will continue with the Government working with us on what we have been discussing,” he tweeted.

Topics:business-economics-and-finance,government-and‑politics,business-administration,farming,australia,new-zealand

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