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Govt supports almonds, ignores rice and dairy

The Australian Government’s lack of support for staple food production continues to be a concern for many farmers.

While the Government continues the rhetoric about the importance it places on farming, actions speak louder than words. And action has been sadly lacking, according to the community-based Speak Up Campaign.

It acknowledges there are some areas of agricultural production which receive excellent government support, yet bemoans others are ignored, mainly for political reasons.

This has again been highlighted by the federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who says he is keen to support the almond industry which is facing issues due to border closures between Victoria and New South Wales. Mr Littleproud said the government “will ensure they (almond growers) receive the support they need so they can keep supplying amazing products to Australia and around the world”.

Speak Up deputy chair Lachlan Marshall, a dairy farmer, said it was disappointing that considerable effort to get Mr Littleproud to understand that dairying and other staple food production needs some support continues to fall on deaf ears.

“For example, Australia is about to run out of domestically grown rice because our Federal Government refuses to fix the problems it has created with poor water management.

“In my case, I cannot afford to continue feeding my cows and providing Aussie tables with fresh, home-grown milk because the cost of water has become prohibitive. Yet whenever we try to get help from Mr Littleproud or any of his federal colleagues, we effectively get pushed away.

“This occurs, because in the words of Mr Littleproud’s federal National Party colleague Damian Drum (Member for Nicholls), the Liberal Party is frightened that if it fixes the problems faced by staple food producers, it may upset some South Australians and cost the party votes in Adelaide.

“And as for the new Water Minister Keith Pitt, we’re starting to ask: Keith who? If he has been instructed to ignore staple food producers and their issues; do nothing because votes are more important than food; then he’s following these instructions to the letter.

“It is such a shame he will not try to address the serious issues that continue to threaten food supplies being produced in the NSW Murray, which was once our nation’s food bowl.”

Mr Marshall said during the recent drought when he was Water Minister, Mr Littleproud appeared happy to sit back and watch valuable water being wasted due to poor management. He has now handballed the problem to Keith Pitt, who also does nothing.

“But we will not give up. People understand that milk and rice are more important than almonds, and we are hoping people power will eventually force Mr Littleproud and his National Party colleagues to demand action, instead of protecting the Liberal Party’s prospects in South Australia. While they presently seem to think it’s okay to protect almond growers, but not okay to protect dairy and rice farmers, in our view this is unacceptable,” he said.

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